Research Paper Volume 13, Issue 16 pp 20229—20245
Autophagic flux in cancer cells at the invasive front in the tumor-stroma border
- 1 Department of Immunology, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Collaborative Innovation Center of Tianjin for Medical Epigenetics, Key Laboratory of Immune Microenvironment and Disease of the Ministry of Education, State Key Laboratory of Experimental Hematology, Tianjin Medical University, Tianjin, China
- 2 Department of Lung Cancer Center, Tianjin Medical University Cancer Institute and Hospital, Tianjin, China
Received: March 26, 2021 Accepted: August 2, 2021 Published: August 17, 2021https://doi.org/10.18632/aging.203406
How to Cite
Copyright: © 2021 Yan et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
Cancer cells at the invasive front directly interact with stromal tissue that provides a microenvironment with mechanical, nutrient, and oxygen supply characteristics distinct from those of intratumoral tissues. It has long been known that cancer cells at the invasive front and cancer cells inside the tumor body exhibit highly differentiated functions and behaviors. However, it is unknown whether cancer cells at different locations exhibit a variety of autophagic flux, an important catabolic process to maintain cellular homeostasis in response to environmental changes. Here, using transmission electron microscopy (TEM), we found that invading cancer cells at the invasive front, which show mesenchymal transcriptomic traits, exhibit higher autophagic flux than cancer cells inside the tumor body in human primary non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) tissues. This autophagic feature was further confirmed by a live cell autophagic flux monitoring system combined with a 3D organotypic invasion coculture system. Additionally, the increased autophagic flux endows cancer cells with invasive behavior and positively correlates with the advanced tumor stages and the reduced survival period of lung cancer patients. These findings expand the understanding of autophagic dynamics during cancer invasion.