YAP/BRD4-controlled ROR1 promotes tumor-initiating cells andhyperproliferation in pancreatic cancer.

Yamazaki M. et al.

Tumor-initiating cells are major drivers of chemoresistance and attractive targets for cancer therapy, however, their identity in human pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) and the key molecules underlying their traits remain poorly understood. Here, we show that a cellular subpopulation with partial epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT)-like signature marked by high expression of receptor tyrosine kinase-like orphan receptor 1 (ROR1) is the origin of heterogeneous tumor cells in PDAC. We demonstrate that ROR1 depletion suppresses tumor growth, recurrence after chemotherapy, and metastasis. Mechanistically, ROR1 induces the expression of Aurora kinase B (AURKB) by activating E2F through c-Myc to enhance PDAC proliferation. Furthermore, epigenomic analyses reveal that ROR1 is transcriptionally dependent on YAP/BRD4 binding at the enhancer region, and targeting this pathway reduces ROR1 expression and prevents PDAC growth. Collectively, our findings reveal a critical role for ROR1high cells as tumor-initiating cells and the functional importance of ROR1 in PDAC progression, thereby highlighting its therapeutic targetability.


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April, 2023


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