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Carcinogenesis. 2018 Jul 3;39(7):937-947. doi: 10.1093/carcin/bgy046.

AFF4 promotes tumorigenesis and tumor-initiation capacity of head and neck squamous cell carcinoma cells by regulating SOX2.

Author information

1
State Key Laboratory of Oral Diseases, National Clinical Research Center for Oral Diseases, West China Hospital of Stomatology, Sichuan University, Chengdu, Sichuan Province, China.

Abstract

Super elongation complex (SEC) controls gene transcription by releasing Pol II from pausing. Previous studies have shown that dysfunction of SEC was associated with multiple human cancers, such as leukemia and breast cancer. However, the role of SEC in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) development remains largely unknown. In this study, we found expression of AF4/FMR2 family member 4 (AFF4), the core component of SEC, was upregulated dramatically in HNSCC cell lines and tumor tissues. By using siRNA-mediated depletion and overexpression of AFF4, we demonstrated AFF4 promoted proliferation, migration and invasion of HNSCC cells. Moreover, we found AFF4 enhanced the aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH) activity and sphere formatting activity and was required for the tumor-initiation capacity of stem-like cells in HNSCC cell lines. Mechanistically, we found the role of AFF4 in regulation of HNSCC cell behaviors was mainly mediated by sex-determining region Y box2 (SOX2), a critical regulator involved in development of several human cancers. SOX2 expression changed in parallel with AFF4 expression in response to depletion and overexpression of AFF4, respectively. More importantly, overexpression of SOX2 rescued the inhibited proliferation, migration, invasion and ALDH activity induced by knockdown of AFF4 in HNSCC cells, at least in part. Collectively, our findings indicate AFF4 may serve as a biomarker and a potential target of therapies for patients with HNSCC.

PMID:
29741610
PMCID:
PMC6031063
DOI:
10.1093/carcin/bgy046
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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