The prognosis of patients with high-grade or advanced-stage endometrial cancer remains poor. As cancer stem-like cells (CSCs) are thought to be associated with endometrial cancers, it is essential to investigate the molecular mechanisms that regulate endometrial CSCs. Dual-specificity phosphatase 6 (DUSP6) functions as a negative-feedback regulator of MAPK–ERK1/2 signaling, but its role in endometrial cancer remains unknown. We investigated whether DUSP6 is involved in cancer cell stemness using endometrial cancer cell lines and specimens from endometrial cancer patients. DUSP6 induced the expression of CSC-related genes including ALDH1, Nanog, SOX2 and Oct4A, increased the population of cells in the G0/G1 phase, and promoted sphere formation ability. DUSP6 knockdown resulted in reduced cell invasion and metastasis, whereas DUSP6 overexpression inhibited apoptosis under serum-free conditions. Moreover, DUSP6 decreased phosphorylated ERK1/2 and increased phosphorylated Akt levels, which potentially induces CSC features. In patients with endometrial cancers, DUSP6 expression was determined using immunohistochemistry, and based on the results, the patients were dichotomized into high- and low-DUSP6-expression groups. Progression-free survival and overall survival were significantly shorter in the high-DUSP6-expression group. These results suggest that DUSP6 has potential value as a biomarker of CSCs and as a target of therapies designed to eliminate CSCs in endometrial cancer.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Cancer Research