Research Papers:

Lung cancer-derived galectin-1 contributes to cancer associated fibroblast-mediated cancer progression and immune suppression through TDO2/kynurenine axis

Ya-Ling Hsu _, Jen-Yu Hung, Shin-Yi Chiang, Shu-Fang Jian, Cheng-Ying Wu, Yi-Shiuan Lin, Ying-Ming Tsai, Shah-Hwa Chou, Ming-Ju Tsai and Po-Lin Kuo

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Oncotarget. 2016; 7:27584-27598. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.8488

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Ya-Ling Hsu1, Jen-Yu Hung2,3, Shin-Yi Chiang4, Shu-Fang Jian4, Cheng-Ying Wu4, Yi-Shiuan Lin4, Ying-Ming Tsai1,2, Shah-Hwa Chou5, Ming-Ju Tsai1,2, Po-Lin Kuo4,6

1Graduate Institute of Medicine, College of Medicine, Kaohsiung Medical University, Kaohsiung, Taiwan

2Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, Kaohsiung Medical University Hospital, Kaohsiung, Taiwan

3School of Medicine, College of Medicine, Kaohsiung Medical University, Kaohsiung, Taiwan

4Institute of Clinical Medicine, College of Medicine, Kaohsiung Medical University, Kaohsiung, Taiwan

5Division of Chest Surgery, Department of Surgery, Kaohsiung Medical University Hospital, Kaohsiung, Taiwan

6Institute of Medical Science and Technology, National Sun Yat-Sen University, Kaohsiung, Taiwan

Correspondence to:

Po-Lin Kuo, e-mail: [email protected]

Keywords: galectin-1, kynurenine, lung cancer, cancer-associated fibroblasts

Received: December 02, 2015    Accepted: March 18, 2016    Published: March 30, 2016


Communication between cancer cells and their microenvironment plays an important role in cancer development, but the precise mechanisms by which cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAF) impact anti-cancer immunity and cancer progression in lung cancer are poorly understood. Here, we report that lung fibroblasts when activated by lung cancer cells produce tryptophan metabolite kynurenine (Kyn) that inhibits dendritic cells’ differentiation and induces cancer growth as well as migration. We identified TDO2 (tryptophan 2,3-dioxygenase) as the main enzyme expressed in fibroblasts capable of tryptophan metabolism. Mechanistically, condition medium of CAF or exogenous kynurenine stimulated AKT, with no lysine 1 (WNK1) and cAMP response element-bindingprotein (CREB) phosphorylation in lung cancer cells. Inhibition of the AKT/CREB pathway prevents cancer proliferation, while inhibition of the AKT/ WNK1 reverted epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition and cancer migration induced by kynurenine. Moreover, we also demonstrate that lung cancer-derived galectin-1 contributes to the upregulation of TDO2 in CAF through an AKT-dependent pathway. Immunohistochemical analysis of lung cancer surgical specimens revealed increased TDO2 expression in the fibroblasts adjacent to the cancer. Furthermore, in vivo studies showed that administration of TDO2 inhibitor significantly improves DCs function and T cell response, and decreases tumor metastasis in mice. Taken together, our data identify the feedback loop, consisting of cancer-derived galectin-1 and CAF-producing kynurenine, that sustains lung cancer progression. These findings suggest that targeting this pathway may be a promising therapeutic strategy.

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