Head and neck cancer (HNC) is a prevalent cancer worldwide. Let-7 has been shown to function as a tumour suppressor by regulating multiple oncogenic signalling pathways. However, the role of let-7 in head and neck cancer (HNC) and in HNC-associated tumour initiating cells (TIC) remains unclear. In this study, we first demonstrated that let-7a expression was significantly decreased but that Nanog/Oct4 expression was increased in HNC tissues as compared to adjacent normal cells. Expression of let-7a in recurrent HNC tissue and in regional metastatic lymph nodes of HNC patients was also significantly decreased, but Nanog/Oct4 expression was increased as compared to the expression levels in the parental tumours. Consistently, the stemness genes were significantly up-regulated and let-7a was down-regulated in HNC-ALDH1 + cells relative to HNC-ALDH1- cells. Furthermore, lentiviral-mediated let-7a overexpression could significantly inhibit the stemness signature and the chemoresistant abilities of HNC-ALDH1+ cells. Most importantly, overexpression of let-7 or knockdown of Nanog in ALDH1+ cells effectively blocked tumour metastasis and significantly prolonged survival time in ALDH1+-transplanted immunocompromised mice. Overall, restoration of let-7a in HNC and HNC-TIC may be a new approach for the therapeutic treatment of HNC in the future. These results show that let-7a negatively modulates the expression of stemness genes and plays a role as a tumour suppressor in HNC by eliminating the putative HNC-TIC population.
|Number of pages||9|
|State||Published - 1 Mar 2011|
- Tumour initiating cells