Introduction: Human epidermal growth factor 2 (HER2) gene overexpression in breast carcinoma cell lines has been shown to drive mammary carcinogenesis and tumor growth and invasion through its effects on mammary stem cells. Objective: Therefore, we investigated the mechanism by which HER2 regulates cancer stem cell (CSC) activity in gastric cancer cells. Methods: HER2 was transfected into MKN28 gastric cancer cells, and its role in regulating CSC activity was determined by characterizing the HER2-overexpressing cells. Results: The sphere formation assay revealed that the sphere sizes and frequency of sphere formation were significantly greater for the HER2-overexpressing cells than for the MKN28 control cells. The CSC markers Oct-4 and BMI1 were more highly expressed in the HER2-overexpressing cells, as were the EMT markers. This was accompanied by a significant enhancement in cellular invasion of the Matrigel and migration. The E-cadherin level was significantly downregulated, and the mesenchymal marker Snail upregulated, in the HER2-transfected cells. HER2 overexpression activated the well-characterized CSC-associated Wnt/β-catenin signaling pathway, as shown by the luciferase assay. After treatment of these cells with the Wnt signal inhibitor PRI-724, the BMI1 and Oct-4 levels were decreased for 24 h and Snail was also downregulated. Immunofluorescence staining revealed the significant restoration of E-cadherin levels in the HER2-transfected cells after PRI-724 treatment. Conclusions: These results established a role for HER2 in regulating gastric CSC activity, with Wnt/β-catenin signaling being mediated via a HER2-dependent pathway. In summary, HER2-overexpressing gastric cancer cells exhibited increased stemness and invasiveness and were regulated by Wnt/β-catenin signaling.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Cancer Research