Early stage of esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) is known to be accompanied by angiogenesis and morphological changes of microvessels. Transcription factor Sox2 is amplified in various cancers including ESCC, but the role of Sox2 in the carcinogenesis and angiogenesis has not been determined. Hence, we aimed to investigate the role of Sox2 in the early stage of ESCC. We found that the expression of Sox2 was significantly higher in early-stage ESCC tissues than that in their adjacent normal tissues. We then established Sox2-inducible normal human esophageal squamous cell line (HetSox2) to investigate the role of Sox2 in esophageal carcinogenesis and angiogenesis in vitro. Sox2 overexpression led to increased cell proliferation and spheroid formation. The culture supernatant of Sox2-overexpressing HetSox2 induced migration and sprouting of endothelial cell line HUVEC (human umbilical vein endothelial cell). As for the mechanism, we found that the expression of secreted protein Suprabasin was directly induced by Sox2. Suprabasin enhanced proliferation of normal human esophageal squamous cells when added to the culture. Moreover, Suprabasin enhanced migration and sprouting of HUVEC cells, which were observed with the culture supernatant of Sox2-overexpressing HetSox2. This angiogenic effect of Suprabasin was abolished by inhibiting AKT phosphorylation, which suggested its dependence on AKT signaling. Finally, we showed that Suprabasin expression and the density of microvessels were significantly higher in ESCC tissues with high Sox2 expression. Our study suggested that increased Sox2 expression in esophageal squamous cells induced Suprabasin expression, and as a result initiated the carcinogenesis via increased cell proliferation and angiogenesis.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research