Feline SCCs of the Head and Neck Display Partial Epithelial-Mesenchymal Transition and Harbor Stem Cell-like Cancer Cells

Stefan Kummer, Andrea Klang, Carina Strohmayer, Ingrid Walter, Christoph Jindra, Sibylle Kneissl, Sabine Brandt

Research output: Journal article (peer-reviewed)Journal article

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

Squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck (HNSCC) is a malignant cancer disease in humans and animals. There is ample evidence that the high plasticity of cancer cells, i.e., their ability to switch from an epithelial to a mesenchymal, endothelial, and stem cell-like phenotype, chiefly contributes to progression, metastasis, and multidrug resistance of human HNSCCs. In feline HNSCC, the field of cancer cell plasticity is still unexplored. In this study, fourteen feline HNSCCs with a known feline papillomavirus (FPV) infection status were subjected to histopathological grading and subsequent screening for expression of epithelial, mesenchymal, and stem cell markers by immunohistochemistry (IHC) and immunofluorescence staining (IF). Irrespective of the FPV infection status, all tumors except one corresponded to high-grade, invasive lesions and concurrently expressed epithelial (keratins, E-cadherin, β-catenin) and mesenchymal (vimentin, N-cadherin, CD146) proteins. This finding is indicative for partial epithelial-mesenchymal transition (pEMT) events in the lesions, as similarly described for human HNSCCs. IF double staining revealed the presence of CD44/CD271 double-positive cells notably within the tumors' invasive fronts that likely correspond to cancer stem cells. Taken together, the obtained findings suggest that feline HNSCCs closely resemble their human counterparts with respect to tumor cell plasticity.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1288
Pages (from-to)1288
JournalPathogens
Volume12
Issue number11
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 27 Oct 2023

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