Remodeling of basement membrane proteins contributes to tumor progression towards the metastatic stage. One of these proteins, laminin 521 (LN521), sustains embryonic and induced pluripotent stem cell self-renewal, but its putative role in cancer is poorly described. In the present study we found that LN521 promotes colorectal cancer (CRC) cell self-renewal and invasion. siRNA-mediated knockdown of endogenously-produced laminin alpha 5, as well as treatment with neutralizing antibodies against integrin α3β1 and α6β1, were able to reverse the effect of LN521 on self-renewal. Exposure of CRC cells to LN521 enhanced STAT3 phosphorylation, and incubation with STAT3 inhibitors Napabucasin and Stattic was sufficient to block the LN521-driven self-renewal increase. Robust expression of laminin alpha 5 was detected in 7/10 liver metastases tissue sections collected from CRC patients as well as in mouse liver metastasis xenografts, in most cases within areas expressing metastasis cancer stem cell markers such as c-KIT and CD44v6. Finally, retrospective analysis of multiple CRC datasets highlighted the significant association between high LN521 mRNA expression and poor clinical outcome in colorectal cancer patients. Collectively our results indicate that high Laminin 521 expression is a frequent feature of metastatic dissemination in CRC and that it promotes cell invasion and self-renewal, the latter through engagement of integrin isoforms and activation of STAT3 signaling.
Copyright © 2020. Published by Elsevier B.V.