MTNR1B loss promotes chordoma recurrence by abrogating melatonin-mediated β-catenin signaling repression

J Pineal Res. 2019 Sep;67(2):e12588. doi: 10.1111/jpi.12588. Epub 2019 Jun 28.


Chordoma is an extremely rare malignant bone tumor with a high rate of relapse. While cancer stem cells (CSCs) are closely associated with tumor recurrence, which depend on its capacity to self-renew and induce chemo-/radioresistance, whether and how CSCs participate in chordoma recurrence remains unclear. The current study found that tumor cells in recurrent chordoma displayed more dedifferentiated CSC-like properties than those in corresponding primary tumor tissues. Meanwhile, MTNR1B deletion along with melatonin receptor 1B (MTNR1B) down-regulation was observed in recurrent chordoma. Further investigation revealed that activation of Gαi2 by MTNR1B upon melatonin stimulation could inhibit SRC kinase activity via recruiting CSK and SRC, increasing SRC Y530 phosphorylation, and decreasing SRC Y419 phosphorylation. This subsequently suppressed β-catenin signaling and stemness via decreasing β-catenin p-Y86/Y333/Y654. However, MTNR1B loss in chordoma mediated increased CSC properties, chemoresistance, and tumor progression by releasing melatonin's repression of β-catenin signaling. Clinically, MTNR1B deletion was found to correlate with patients' survival. Together, our study establishes a novel convergence between melatonin and β-catenin signaling pathways and reveals the significance of this cross talk in chordoma recurrence. Besides, we propose that MTNR1B is a potential biomarker for prediction of chordoma prognosis and selection of treatment options, and chordoma patients might benefit from targeting MTNR1B/Gαi2/SRC/β-catenin axis.

Keywords: cancer stem cell; chordoma; melatonin; melatonin receptor 1B; β-catenin.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / deficiency*
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / genetics
  • Bone Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Bone Neoplasms / genetics
  • Bone Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Bone Neoplasms / pathology
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Chondroma / drug therapy
  • Chondroma / genetics
  • Chondroma / metabolism*
  • Chondroma / pathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Melatonin / pharmacology*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Mice, Nude
  • Neoplasm Proteins / genetics
  • Neoplasm Proteins / metabolism*
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / drug therapy
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / genetics
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / metabolism*
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / pathology
  • Receptor, Melatonin, MT2 / deficiency*
  • Receptor, Melatonin, MT2 / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects*
  • Xenograft Model Antitumor Assays
  • beta Catenin / genetics
  • beta Catenin / metabolism*


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • MTNR1B protein, human
  • Neoplasm Proteins
  • Receptor, Melatonin, MT2
  • beta Catenin
  • Melatonin