Identification of the precise molecular pathways involved in oncogene-induced transformation may help us gain a better understanding of tumor initiation and promotion. Here, we demonstrate that SOX2+ foregut epithelial cells are prone to oncogenic transformation upon mutagenic insults, such as KrasG12D and p53 deletion. GFP-based lineage-tracing experiments indicate that SOX2+ cells are the cells-of-origin of esophagus and stomach hyperplasia. Our observations indicate distinct roles for oncogenic KRAS mutation and P53 deletion. p53 homozygous deletion is required for the acquisition of an invasive potential, and KrasG12D expression, but not p53 deletion, suffices for tumor formation. Global gene expression analysis reveals secreting factors upregulated in the hyperplasia induced by oncogenic KRAS and highlights a crucial role for the CXCR2 pathway in driving hyperplasia. Collectively, the array of genetic models presented here demonstrate that stratified epithelial cells are susceptible to oncogenic insults, which may lead to a better understanding of tumor initiation and aid in the design of new cancer therapeutics.
Keywords: CXCR2; Sox2; stratified epithelia; tumor.