Cancer stem cell-like population is preferentially suppressed by EGFR-TKIs in EGFR-mutated PC-9 tumor models

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Although the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) and Wnt/β-catenin signaling systems synergistically regulate many essential developmental and regenerative processes in lung cancer, the mechanisms of their crosstalk remain poorly defined. Our study aimed to investigate an interaction between EGFR and the β-catenin signal.


In this study, we described a potent activation of β-catenin by EGFR, which is dependent of the PtdIns3K/AKT pathway. We found EGF activated β-catenin signaling via phosphorylation of EGFR and AKT in EGFR-mutated PC-9 lung cancer cells. Meanwhile, EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitors (EGFR-TKIs) regulated cancer stem-like cells (CSCs) by inhibiting autophosphorylation of EGFR and downstream signaling proteins, as well as β-catenin. Further, β-catenin depletion by RNA interference virtually eliminated cancer stem cell-like population in PC-9 cells in vitro. The nude mice transplantation model was also performed to confirm EGFR-TKIs strongly inhibited the β-catenin signal and decreased CSCs. Importantly, the reduction of CSCs that sorted out by side population (SP) cells significantly reduced the migration capability. Thus, our results improved the understanding of this process to provide insights into mechanisms of responding to EGFR-TKIs.


Our discoveries raise an intriguing question of the role of β-catenin in EGFR-TKIs-treated cancer stem cell-like population(s) and its potential as a new therapeutic target for NSCLC in the future.

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