Cancer stem cells (CSC) are highly resistant to conventional chemotherapeutic drugs. YAP1 and STAT3 are the two transcription factors that facilitate the therapeutic resistance and expansion of CSCs. The objective of this study was to understand the cross-talk between YAP1 and STAT3 activities and to determine the therapeutic efficacy of targeting dual CSC-regulating pathways (YAP1 and STAT3) combined with chemotherapy in lung adenocarcinoma. Here, we showed that YAP1 contributes to CSC regulation and enhances tumor formation while suppressing apoptosis. Mechanistically, YAP1 promotes phosphorylation of STAT3 by upregulating IL6. In lung adenocarcinoma clinical specimens, YAP1 expression correlated with that of IL6 (P < 0.01). More importantly, YAP1 and phosphorylated STAT3 (pSTAT3) protein expressions were significantly correlated (P < 0.0001) in primary lung adenocarcinoma as determined by IHC. Immunoblotting of 13 lung adenocarcinoma patient-derived xenografts (PDX) showed that all YAP1-expressing PDXs also exhibited pSTAT3. Additional investigations revealed that chemotherapy resistance and malignant stemness were influenced by upregulating NANOG, OCT4, and SOX2, and the expression of these targets significantly attenuated by genetically and pharmacologically hindering the activities of YAP1 and STAT3 in vivo and in vitro. Therapeutically, the dual inhibition of YAP1 and STAT3 elicits a long-lasting therapeutic response by limiting CSC expansion following chemotherapy in cell line xenograft and PDX models of lung adenocarcinoma. Collectively, these findings provide a conceptual framework to target the YAP1 and STAT3 pathways concurrently with systemic chemotherapy to improve the clinical management of lung adenocarcinoma, based on evidence that these two pathways expand CSC populations that mediate resistance to chemotherapy.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research