Distinct fibroblast functional states drive clinical outcomes in ovarian cancer and are regulated by TCF21.
J Exp Med. 2020 Aug 03;217(8):
Authors: Hussain A, Voisin V, Poon S, Karamboulas C, Bui NHB, Meens J, Dmytryshyn J, Ho VW, Tang KH, Paterson J, Clarke BA, Bernardini MQ, Bader GD, Neel BG, Ailles LE
Recent studies indicate that cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs) are phenotypically and functionally heterogeneous. However, little is known about CAF subtypes, the roles they play in cancer progression, and molecular mediators of the CAF "state." Here, we identify a novel cell surface pan-CAF marker, CD49e, and demonstrate that two distinct CAF states, distinguished by expression of fibroblast activation protein (FAP), coexist within the CD49e+ CAF compartment in high-grade serous ovarian cancers. We show for the first time that CAF state influences patient outcomes and that this is mediated by the ability of FAP-high, but not FAP-low, CAFs to aggressively promote proliferation, invasion and therapy resistance of cancer cells. Overexpression of the FAP-low-specific transcription factor TCF21 in FAP-high CAFs decreases their ability to promote invasion, chemoresistance, and in vivo tumor growth, indicating that it acts as a master regulator of the CAF state. Understanding CAF states in more detail could lead to better patient stratification and novel therapeutic strategies.
PMID: 32434219 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]