Radiochemotherapy-induced DNA repair promotes the biogenesis of gastric cancer stem cells

Stem Cell Res Ther. 2022 Sep 24;13(1):481. doi: 10.1186/s13287-022-03165-8.


Background: Clinically, metastasis and recurrence occurred after routine radiochemotherapy in dozens of cases of gastric cancer, mainly attributed to the role of cancer stem cells (CSCs). Actually, radiochemotherapy could induce DNA damages, leading to activation of DNA repair which might be associated with acquisition of stem cell phenotype. Hitherto, the contribution made by active DNA repair to stemness induction has not been extensively explored.

Methods: Cisplatin/doxorubicin treatment and X-ray exposure were conducted in gastric cancer cell lines and gastric cancer cells derived from solid tumors to model clinical therapy. Quantitative real-time PCR, Western blot, and tumorsphere/tumor formation assay were further used to characterize CSCs and assess activation of DNA repair. RNA-seq was performed to identify which DNA repair genes were crucial for CSC traits induction, followed by the investigation of underlying mechanism and functional significance via in vitro and in vivo experiments.

Results: Here, we report a mechanism through which gastric cancer cells in response to radiochemotherapy were reprogrammed into gastric cancer stem cell-like cells. In this mechanism, radiochemotherapy triggers DNA damage response accompanied by elevated levels of EID3, a typical DNA repair gene, which interacts with NAMPT to promote stemness via upregulating Wnt signaling pathway, manifested by enhanced tumorsphere/tumor formation in gastric cancer. In addition to involvement of EID3 in stemness acquisition, it also shows impacts on proliferation, cell cycle, apoptosis and therapy resistance to maintain the characteristics of CSC populations.

Conclusion: Our study indicates that gastric cancer cells can be endowed with stemness traits via EID3-NAMPT-Wnt/β-catenin axis in response to radiochemotherapy. Blocking this axis (i.e., targeting EID3) along with radiochemotherapy might represent a potential strategy to sensitize CSCs to radiochemotherapy and further reinforce the anti-tumor effects of conventional treatments.

Keywords: DNA repair; EID3; Gastric cancer stem cells; NAMPT; Wnt signaling pathway.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Chemoradiotherapy
  • Cisplatin / pharmacology
  • DNA Repair
  • Doxorubicin / pharmacology
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic
  • Humans
  • Neoplastic Stem Cells / metabolism
  • Stomach Neoplasms* / genetics
  • Stomach Neoplasms* / metabolism
  • Stomach Neoplasms* / therapy
  • Wnt Signaling Pathway
  • beta Catenin* / metabolism


  • beta Catenin
  • Doxorubicin
  • Cisplatin