CD73 is a cell surface immunosuppressive enzyme involved in tumor progression and metastasis. While patients whose cancer cells express elevated CD73 are typically associated with an unfavorable outcome, the clinical impact of CD73 expression in patients with Head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) remains unclear. In the present study, we investigated the prognostic significance of CD73 in HNSCC using gene and protein expression analyses. Our results demonstrate that high levels of CD73 are significantly associated with reduced overall survival in patients with HNSCC. We also investigated the functional role of CD73 in vitro and demonstrated that CD73 promotes HNSCC migration and invasion through adenosine A3R stimulation and the activation of EGF/EGFR signaling. Moreover, in vivo xenograft studies demonstrated that CD73 promotes tumorigenesis. In conclusion, our study highlights a role for CD73 as a poor prognostic marker of patient survival and also as a candidate therapeutic target in HNSCCs.
Keywords: CD73; EGFR; EMT; adenosine receptor; head and neck squamous cell carcinoma.