Lysyl oxidase like-2 mediates tumor to stromal cell communication in oral cancer
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INTRODUCTION: The lysyl oxidase family consists of 5 members and oxidizes specific lysine residues in biosynthetic collagen and elastin maturation. Lysyl oxidase like-2 (LOXL2) is elevated in oral cancer and promotes metastasis and correlates with poor prognosis. The objective of this study was to determine the mechanism by which LOXL2 promotes the progression and invasiveness of oral squamous cell carcinoma. METHODS: In vitro: The effects of LOXL2 inhibitor (PXS-S1C) on human gingival fibroblasts treated with tumor cell conditioned medium (CM) were investigated. Cell proliferation assays, signaling arrays, gene knock down and western blots were used to evaluate the effect of PXS-S1C on CM-treated fibroblasts. The effects of PXS-S1C on cancer cell expression of LOXL2 and proliferation were determined. To find potential LOXL2 substrates, carbonyl-containing proteins of gingival fibroblasts treated with CM +/- PXS-S1C were affinity-labeled and then purified by affinity chromatography and identified by western blot. In vivo: The effects of PXS-S1C on cancer cell growth and metastasis in vivo were investigated using orthotopic oral tongue cancer mouse models in both immunodeficient and immunocompetent mice. PXS-S1C at 10 mg/kg and 30 mg/kg was injected immediately following tumor cell injections. Tumor growth was monitored by both caliper measurement and in vivo imaging (IVIS). The mice were sacrificed and their organs were subjected to immunohistochemical staining with proliferation markers. RESULTS: PXS-S1C significantly inhibited gingival fibroblast proliferation stimulated by tumor cell CM and attenuated phosphorylation of PDGFRβ at the Y771 and Y857, but not Y751 residues in response to CM treatment. PXS-S1C inhibited ERK1/2-signaling in fibroblasts but not AKT pathway in response to CM treatment. PDGFR activation by oral tumor cells was mimicked by PDGF-AB but not PDGF-BB. PXS-S1C decreased the expression of LOXL2 in HSC3 oral cancer cells in vitro, suggesting the existence of a positive autoregulatory loop. Assessing for direct LOXL2 substrates in fibroblasts with functional consequences identified PDGFR. In vivo studies: Caliper measurements, IVIS, and immunohistochemistry demonstrated that inhibition of LOXL2 by injections of PXS-S1C significantly decreased both progression and metastasis of oral cancers in vivo in both mouse models. Mice without PXS-S1C treatment developed larger tongue volumes (p<0.05), and in immunocompetent mice larger lymph nodes (9 out 12) were observed compared to the PXS-S1C-treated mice (4 out of 12). IVIS imaging of immunodeficient mice revealed inhibition of metastasis by PXS-S1C treatment. The expression of proliferation marker (Ki-67 or PCNA) and LOXL2 was lower in tongue tumors treated with PXS-S1C in both in vivo models (p<0.05). CONCLUSIONS: LOXL2 secreted by cancer cells stimulates fibroblast proliferation by oxidizing PDGFR and thereby enhancing PDGF-mediated signaling. Inhibition of LOXL2 can be used as a therapeutic strategy to suppress the growth and metastasis of oral cancers by modulating tumor microenvironment.