An endogenous inhibitor of angiogenesis inversely correlates with side population phenotype and function in human lung cancer cells

Oncogene. 2014 Feb 27;33(9):1198-206. doi: 10.1038/onc.2013.61. Epub 2013 Mar 11.


The side population (SP) in human lung cancer cell lines and tumors is enriched with cancer stem cells. An endogenous inhibitor of angiogenesis known as tissue inhibitor of matrix metalloproteinase-2 (TIMP-2), characterized for its ability to inhibit matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs), has been shown by several laboratories to impede tumor progression through MMP-dependent or -independent mechanisms. We recently reported that forced expression of TIMP-2, as well as the modified form Ala+TIMP-2 (that lacks MMP inhibitory activity) significantly blocks growth of A549 human lung cancer cells in vivo. However, the mechanisms underlying TIMP-2 antitumor effects are not fully characterized. Here, we examine the hypothesis that the TIMP-2 antitumor activity may involve regulation of the SP in human lung cancer cells. Indeed, using Hoechst dye efflux assay and flow cytometry, as well as quantitative reverse transcriptase-PCR analysis, we found that endogenous TIMP-2 mRNA levels showed a significant inverse correlation with SP fraction size in six non-small cell lung cancer cell lines. In A549 cells expressing increased levels of TIMP-2, a significant decrease in SP was observed, and this decrease was associated with lowered gene expression of ABCG2, ABCB1 and AKR1C1. Functional analysis of A549 cells showed that TIMP-2 overexpression increased chemosensitivity to cytotoxic drugs. The SP isolated from TIMP-2-overexpressing A549 cells also demonstrated impaired migratory capacity compared with the SP from empty vector control. More importantly, our data provide strong evidence that these TIMP-2 functions occur independent of MMP inhibition, as A549 cells overexpressing Ala+TIMP-2 exhibited identical behavior to those overexpressing TIMP-2 alone. Our findings provide the first indication that TIMP-2 modulates SP phenotype and function, and suggests that TIMP-2 may act as an endogenous suppressor of the SP in human lung cancer cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural

MeSH terms

  • ATP Binding Cassette Transporter, Subfamily G, Member 2
  • ATP-Binding Cassette Transporters / genetics
  • ATP-Binding Cassette Transporters / metabolism
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / genetics
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / metabolism
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / pathology
  • Cell Movement / genetics
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Lung Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Lung Neoplasms / pathology
  • Matrix Metalloproteinase Inhibitors / metabolism
  • Matrix Metalloproteinases / genetics
  • Matrix Metalloproteinases / metabolism
  • Neoplasm Proteins / genetics
  • Neoplasm Proteins / metabolism
  • Neovascularization, Pathologic / genetics*
  • Neovascularization, Pathologic / pathology
  • Phenotype
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • Side-Population Cells / metabolism*
  • Tissue Inhibitor of Metalloproteinase-2 / genetics
  • Tissue Inhibitor of Metalloproteinase-2 / metabolism
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured


  • ABCG2 protein, human
  • ATP Binding Cassette Transporter, Subfamily G, Member 2
  • ATP-Binding Cassette Transporters
  • Matrix Metalloproteinase Inhibitors
  • Neoplasm Proteins
  • RNA, Messenger
  • TIMP2 protein, human
  • Tissue Inhibitor of Metalloproteinase-2
  • Matrix Metalloproteinases