Recurrence and subsequent metastatic transformation of cancer develops from a subset of malignant cells, which show the ability to resist stress and to adopt to a changing microenvironment. These tumor cells have distinctly different growth factor pathways and antiapoptotic responses compared with the vast majority of cancer cells. Long-term therapeutic success can only be achieved by identifying and targeting factors and signaling cascades that help these cells survive during stress. Both microarray and immunohistochemical analysis on human prostate cancer tissue samples have shown an increased expression of vascular endothelial growth factor-C(VEGF-C ) in metastatic prostate cancer. We have discovered that VEGF-Cacts directly on prostate cancer cells to protect them against oxidative stress. VEGF-C increased the survival of prostate cancer cells during hydrogen peroxide stress by the activation of AKT-1/protein kinase BA. This activation was mediated by mammalian target of rapamycin complex-2 and was not observed in the absence of oxidative stress. Finally, the transmembrane nontyrosine kinase receptor neuropilin-2 was found to be essential for the VEGF-C-mediated AKT-1 activation. Indeed, our findings suggest a novel and distinct function of VEGF-Cin protecting cancer cells from stress-induced cell death, thereby facilitating cancer recurrence and metastasis. This is distinctly different from the known function of VEGF-Cin inducing lymphangiogenesis.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research