Neuroblastoma is the most common extracranial solid tumor in children and originates from poorly differentiated neural crest progenitors. High-risk neuroblastoma patients frequently present with metastatic disease at diagnosis. Despite intensive treatment, patients often develop refractory disease characterized by poorly differentiated, therapy resistant cells. Although adjuvant therapy using retinoic acid (RA)-induced differentiation may increase event-free survival, in the majority of cases response to RA-therapy is inadequate. Consequently, current research aims to identify novel therapeutic targets that enhance the sensitivity to RA and induce neuroblastoma cell differentiation. The similarities between neural crest development and neuroblastoma progression provide an appealing starting point. During neural crest development the EMT-transcription factor SNAI2 plays an important role in neural crest specification as well as neural crest cell migration and survival. Here, we report that CRISPR/Cas9 mediated deletion as well as shRNA mediated knockdown of the EMT-transcription factor SNAI2 promotes cellular differentiation in a variety of neuroblastoma models. By comparing mRNA expression data from independent patient cohorts, we show that a SNAI2 activity-based gene expression signature significantly correlates with event-free survival. Loss of SNAI2 function reduces self-renewal, 3D invasion as well as metastatic spread in vivo, while strongly sensitizing neuroblastoma cells to RA-induced growth inhibition. Together, our data demonstrate that SNAI2 maintains progenitor-like features in neuroblastoma cells while interfering with RA-induced growth inhibition. We propose that targeting gene regulatory circuits, such as those controlling SNAI2 function, may allow reversion of RA-therapy resistant neuroblastoma cells to a more differentiated and therapy responsive phenotype.
|Tijdschrift||Biochimica et biophysica acta. Molecular basis of disease|
|Nummer van het tijdschrift||3|
|Status||Gepubliceerd - 1 mrt. 2020|