EMP2 is a novel therapeutic target for endometrial cancer stem cells

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Previous studies have suggested that overexpression of the oncogenic protein epithelial membrane protein-2 (EMP2) correlates with endometrial carcinoma progression and ultimately poor survival from disease. To understand the role of EMP2 in the etiology of disease, gene analysis was performed to show transcripts that are reciprocally regulated by EMP2 levels. In particular, EMP2 expression correlates with and helps regulate the expression of several cancer stem cell associated markers including aldehyde dehydrogenase 1 (ALDH1). ALDH expression significantly promotes tumor initiation and correlates with the levels of EMP2 expression in both patient samples and tumor cell lines. As therapy against cancer stem cells in endometrial cancer is lacking, the ability of anti-EMP2 IgG1 therapy to reduce primary and secondary tumor formation using xenograft HEC1A models was determined. Anti-EMP2 IgG1 reduced the expression and activity of ALDH and correspondingly reduced both primary and secondary tumor load. Our results collectively suggest that anti-EMP2 therapy may be a novel method of reducing endometrial cancer stem cells.

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