The limited clinical response to conventional chemotherapeutics observed in colorectal cancer (CRC) may be related to the connections between the hyperactivated Î²-catenin signaling and other pathways in CRC stem-like cells (CRC-SC). Here, we show the mechanistic link between the endothelin-1 (ET-1)/ET-1 receptor (ET-1R) signaling and Î²-catenin pathway through the specific interaction with the signal transducer Î²-arrestin1 (Î²-arr1), which initiates signaling cascades as part of the signaling complex. Using a panel of patient-derived CRC-SC, we show that these cells secrete ET-1 and express ETAR and Î²-arr1, and that the activation of ETAR/Î²-arr1 axis promotes the cross-talk with Î²-catenin signaling to sustain stemness, epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) phenotype and response to chemotherapy. Upon ETAR activation, Î²-arr1 acts as a transcription co-activator that binds Î²-catenin, thereby promoting nuclear complex with Î²-catenin/TFC4 and p300 and histone acetylation, inducing chromatin reorganization on target genes, such as ET-1. The enhanced transcription of ET-1 increases the self-sustained ET-1/Î²-catenin network. All these findings provide a strong rationale for targeting ET-1R to hamper downstream Î²-catenin/ET-1 autocrine circuit. Interestingly, treatment with macitentan, a dual ETAR and ETBR antagonist, able to interfere with tumor and microenvironment, disrupts the ET-1R/Î²-arr1-Î²-catenin interaction impairing pathways involved in cell survival, EMT, invasion, and enhancing sensitivity to oxaliplatin (OX) and 5-fluorouracil (5-FU). In CRC-SC xenografts, the combination of macitentan and OX or 5-FU enhances the therapeutic effects of cytotoxic drugs. Together, these results provide mechanistic insight into how ET-1R coopts Î²-catenin signaling and offer a novel therapeutic strategy to manage CRC based on the combination of macitentan and chemotherapy that might benefit patients whose tumors show high ETAR and Î²-catenin expression.
- Cell Biology
- Molecular Biology