American Association for Cancer Research

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Figure S4 from Cancer Cells Retrace a Stepwise Differentiation Program during Malignant Progression

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journal contribution
posted on 2023-04-03, 23:26 authored by Sadegh Saghafinia, Krisztian Homicsko, Annunziata Di Domenico, Stephan Wullschleger, Aurel Perren, Ilaria Marinoni, Giovanni Ciriello, Iacovos P. Michael, Douglas Hanahan

Supplementary Figure S4



Pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors (PanNET) comprise two molecular subtypes, relatively benign islet tumors (IT) and invasive, metastasis-like primary (MLP) tumors. Until now, the origin of aggressive MLP tumors has been obscure. Herein, using multi-omics approaches, we revealed that MLP tumors arise from IT via dedifferentiation following a reverse trajectory along the developmental pathway of islet β cells, which results in the acquisition of a progenitor-like molecular phenotype. Functionally, the miR-181cd cluster induces the IT-to-MLP transition by suppressing expression of the Meis2 transcription factor, leading to upregulation of a developmental transcription factor, Hmgb3. Notably, the IT-to-MLP transition constitutes a distinct step of tumorigenesis and is separable from the classic proliferation-associated hallmark, temporally preceding accelerated proliferation of cancer cells. Furthermore, patients with PanNET with elevated HMGB3 expression and an MLP transcriptional signature are associated with higher-grade tumors and worse survival. Overall, our results unveil a new mechanism that modulates cancer cell plasticity to enable malignant progression. Dedifferentiation has long been observed as a histopathologic characteristic of many cancers, albeit inseparable from concurrent increases in cell proliferation. Herein, we demonstrate that dedifferentiation is a mechanistically and temporally separable step in the multistage tumorigenesis of pancreatic islet cells, retracing the developmental lineage of islet β cells.This article is highlighted in the In This Issue feature, p. 2355