Scientific reports

Cervical cancer stem cells manifest radioresistance: Association with upregulated AP-1 activity.

PMID 28684765


Transcription factor AP-1 plays a central role in HPV-mediated cervical carcinogenesis. AP-1 has also been implicated in chemo-radio-resistance but the mechanism(s) remained unexplored. In the present study, cervical cancer stem-like cells (CaCxSLCs) isolated and enriched from cervical cancer cell lines SiHa and C33a demonstrated an elevated AP-1 DNA-binding activity in comparison to non-stem cervical cancer cells. Upon UV-irradiation, CaCxSLCs showed a UV exposure duration-dependent higher proliferation and highly increased AP-1 activity whereas it was completely abolished in non-stem cancer cells. CaCxSLCs also showed differential overexpression of c-Fos and c-Jun at transcript as well as in protein level. The loss of AP-1 activity and expression was accompanied by decrease in cell viability and proliferation in UV-irradiated non-stem cancer cells. Interestingly, CaCxSLCs treated with curcumin prior to UV-irradiation abolished AP-1 activity and a concomitant reduction in SP cells leading to abrogation of sphere forming ability, loss of proliferation, induction of apoptosis and the cells were poorly tumorigenic. The curcumin pre-treatment abolished the expression of c-Fos and c-Jun but upregulated Fra-1 expression in UV-irradiated CaCxSLCs. Thus, the study suggests a critical role of AP-1 protein in the manifestation of radioresistance but targeting with curcumin helps in radiosensitizing CaCxSLCs through upregulation of Fra-1.