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Open Access Publications from the University of California

WASH overexpression enhances cancer stem cell properties and correlates with poor prognosis of esophageal carcinoma.

  • Author(s): Huang, L
  • Lian, J
  • Chen, X
  • Qin, G
  • Zheng, Y
  • Zhang, Y
  • et al.

Published Web Location Commons 'BY' version 4.0 license

There is increasing evidence that cytoskeleton remodeling is involved in cancer progression. Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome protein (WASP) family represents a key regulator of actin cytoskeleton remodeling. However, the underlying mechanism of the WASP family in cancer progression remains elusive. Here, we studied the role of WASP and SCAR Homolog (WASH), a recently identified WASP family member, in human esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC). Using three human ESCC cell lines, we found that WASH expression was significantly elevated in cancer stem-like cells enriched by sphere formation assay. WASH knockdown decreased the sphere-forming capacity of esophageal cancer cells whereas WASH over-expression exhibited the opposite effect. Mechanistically, we identified interleukin-8 (IL-8) as a key downstream target of WASH. IL-8 knockdown completely attenuated tumor sphere formation induced by WASH overexpression. WASH knockdown also delayed the growth of human ESCC xenografts in BALB/c nude mice. Importantly, high WASH levels were associated with poor clinical prognosis in a total of 145 human ESCC tissues. Collectively, our results suggest an essential role of the WASH/IL-8 pathway in human ESCC by maintaining the stemness of cancer cells. Hence, targeting this pathway might represent a promising strategy to control human esophageal carcinoma.

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