Tumour cells, with stem-like properties, are highly aggressive and often show drug resistance. Here, we reveal that integrin v 2 3 serves as a marker of breast, lung and pancreatic carcinomas with stem-like properties that are highly resistant to receptor tyrosine kinase inhibitors such as erlotinib. This was observed in vitro and in mice bearing patient-derived tumour xenografts or in clinical specimens from lung cancer patients who had progressed on erlotinib. Mechanistically, v 2 3, in the unliganded state, recruits KRAS and RalB to the tumour cell plasma membrane, leading to the activation of TBK1 and NF-κB. In fact, v 2 3 expression and the resulting KRAS-RalB-NF-κ B pathway were both necessary and sufficient for tumour initiation, anchorage independence, self-renewal and erlotinib resistance. Pharmacological targeting of this pathway with bortezomib reversed both tumour stemness and erlotinib resistance. These findings not only identify v 2 3 as a marker/driver of carcinoma stemness but also reveal a therapeutic strategy to sensitize such tumours to RTK inhibition.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cell Biology