Abstract: Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV) is associated with several malignant diseases, including Burkitt’s lymphoma, nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC), certain types oflymphomas,and a portion of gastric cancers. Virus-encoded oncoprotein LMP1 induces the epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT), leading to cancer stem cell formation. In the current study, we investigated how LMP1 contributes to cancer stem cell development in NPC. We found that LMP1 plays an essential role in acquiring CSC characteristics, including tumor initiation, metastasis, and therapeutic resistance by activating the PI3K/mTOR/Akt signaling pathway. We dissected the functions of distinct signaling (mTORC1 and mTORC2) in the acquisition of different CSC characteristics. Side population (SP) formation, which represents the chemotherapy resistance feature of CSC, requires mTORC1 signaling. Tumor initiation capability is mainly attributed to mTORC2, which confers on NPC the capabilities of proliferation and survival by activating mTORC2 downstream genes c-Myc. Both mTORC1 and mTORC2 enhance cell migration and invasion of NPC cells, suggesting that mTORC1/2 co-regulate metastasis of NPC. The revelation of the roles of the mTOR signaling pathways in distinct tumorigenic features provides a guideline for designing efficient therapies by choosing specific mTOR inhibitors targeting mTORC1, mTORC2, or both to achieve durable remission of NPC in patients.

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