ADAMTS9 is a functional tumor suppressor through inhibiting AKT/mTOR pathway and associated with poor survival in gastric cancer

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Abstract

Using genome-wide promoter methylation analysis, we identified a disintegrin-like and metalloprotease with thrombospondin type 1 motif 9 (ADAMTS9) is methylated in cancer. We aim to clarify its epigenetic inactivation, biological function and clinical implication in gastric cancer. ADAMTS9 was silenced in 6 out of 8 gastric cancer cell lines. The loss of ADAMTS9 expression was regulated by promoter hypermethylation and could be restored by demethylation agent. Ectopic expression of ADAMTS9 in gastric cancer cell lines (AGS, BGC823) inhibited cell growth curve in both the cell lines (P<0.0001), suppressed colony formation (P<0.01) and induced apoptosis (P<0.001 in AGS, P<0.01 in BGC823). Moreover, conditioned culture medium from ADAMTS9-transfected cell lines significantly disrupted the human umbilical vein endothelial cell tube formation capacity on Matrigel (P<0.01 in AGS, P<0.001 in BGC823). The in vivo growth of ADAMTS9 cells in nude mice was also markedly diminished after stable expression of ADAMTS9 (P<0.001). On the other hand, ADAMTS9 knockdown promoted cell proliferation (P<0.001). We further revealed that ADAMTS9 inhibited tumor growth by blocking activation of Akt and its downstream target the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR). ADAMTS9 also reduced phosphorylation of mTOR downstream targets p70 ribosomal S6 kinase, elF4E-binding protein and downregulated hypoxia-inducible factor-1α. Therefore, this is the first demonstration that ADAMTS9 is a critical tumor suppressor of gastric cancer progression at least in part through suppression of oncogenic AKT/mTOR signaling. Moreover, promoter methylation of ADAMTS9 was detected in 29.2% (21/72) of primary gastric tumors. Multivariate analysis showed that patients with ADAMTS9 methylation had a poorer overall survival (relative risk (RR) = 2.788; 95% confidence interval, 1.474-5.274; P = 0.002). Kaplan-Meier survival curves showed that ADAMTS9 methylation was significantly associated with shortened survival in gastric cancer patients (P = 0.001, log-rank test). In conclusion, ADAMTS9 acts as a functional tumor suppressor in gastric cancer through inhibiting oncogenic AKT/mTOR signaling pathway. Methylation of ADAMTS9 is an independent prognostic factor of gastric cancer.

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