Among all cancer types, lung cancer ranks highest worldwide in terms of both incidence and mortality. The crosstalk between lung cancer cells and their tumor microenvironment (TME) has begun to emerge as the "Achilles heel" of the disease and thus constitutes an attractive target for anticancer therapy. We previously revealed that crosstalk between lung cancer cells and endothelial cells (ECs) induces chemoresistance in multicellular tumor spheroids (MCTSs). In this study, we demonstrated that factors secreted in response to crosstalk between ECs and lung cancer cells play pivotal roles in the development of chemoresistance in lung cancer spheroids. We subsequently determined that the expression of hypoxia up-regulated protein 1 (HYOU1) in lung cancer spheroids was increased by factors secreted in response to crosstalk between ECs and lung cancer cells. Direct interaction between lung cancer cells and ECs also caused an elevation in the expression of HYOU1 in MCTSs. Inhibition of HYOU1 expression not only suppressed stemness and malignancy, but also facilitated apoptosis and chemosensitivity in lung cancer MCTSs. Inhibition of HYOU1 expression also significantly increased the expression of interferon signaling components in lung cancer cells. Moreover, the activation of the PI3K/AKT/mTOR pathway was involved in the HYOU1-induced aggression of lung cancer cells. Taken together, our results identify HYOU1, which is induced in response to crosstalk between ECs and lung cancer cells within the TME, as a potential therapeutic target for combating the aggressive behavior of cancer cells.
Keywords: chemoresistance; endothelial cells; hypoxia up-regulated protein 1; lung cancer; multicellular tumor spheroids.