Tumor-associated endothelial cells (TECs) regulate tumor cell aggressiveness. However, the core mechanism by which TECs confer stem cell-like activity to indolent tumors is unknown. Here, we used in vivo murine and human tumor models to identify the tumor-suppressive checkpoint role of TEC-expressed insulin growth factor (IGF) binding protein-7 (IGFBP7/angiomodulin). During tumorigenesis, IGFBP7 blocks IGF1 and inhibits expansion and aggresiveness of tumor stem-like cells (TSCs) expressing IGF1 receptor (IGF1R). However, chemotherapy triggers TECs to suppress IGFBP7, and this stimulates IGF1R+ TSCs to express FGF4, inducing a feedforward FGFR1-ETS2 angiocrine cascade that obviates TEC IGFBP7. Thus, loss of IGFBP7 and upregulation of IGF1 activates the FGF4-FGFR1-ETS2 pathway in TECs and converts naive tumor cells to chemoresistant TSCs, thereby facilitating their invasiveness and progression.
Keywords: ETS2; IGFBP7/angiomodullin; angiocrine factors; cancer stem cells; chemoresistance; insulin growth factor-1; tumor aggressiveness; tumor endothelial cell; tumor microenvironment; vascular niche.
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