J Cancer 2016; 7(12):1579-1586. doi:10.7150/jca.14713

Research Paper

AKT-STAT3 Pathway as a Downstream Target of EGFR Signaling to Regulate PD-L1 Expression on NSCLC cells

Sherif Abdelhamed, Keisuke Ogura, Satoru Yokoyama, Ikuo Saiki, Yoshihiro Hayakawa

Division of Pathogenic Biochemistry, Institute of Natural Medicine, University of Toyama, Sugitani, Toyama, Japan.


While cancer development and progression can be controlled by cytotoxic T cells, it is also known that tumor-specific CD8+T cells become functionally impaired by acquiring a group of inhibitory receptors known as immune checkpoints. Amongst those, programmed death-1 (PD-1) is one of the most recognized negative regulators of T cell function. In non-small lung cancers (NSCLCs), the aberrant activation of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) is known to induce PD-L1 expression and further the treatment with gefitinib, a tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI) for EGFR, decrease the expression of PD-L1 on NSCLC. Given the acquired resistance to gefitinib treatment frequently observed by developing secondary-site mutations limiting its efficacy, it is important to understand the downstream mechanism of activated-EGFR signaling for regulating PD-L1 in NSCLC. In this study, we demonstrated that AKT-STAT3 pathway could be a potential target for regulating the surface expression of PD-L1 on NSCLCs with aberrant EGFR activity and, further, the inhibition of AKT or STAT3 activity could down-regulate the expression of PD-L1 even in gefitinib-resistant NSCLCs. These results highlight an importance of AKT-STAT3 pathway as a promising target for potentiating anti-tumor immune responses by regulating PD-L1 expression on cancer cells with aberrant EGFR activity.

Keywords: non-small lung cancer, EGFR, AKT, STAT3, PD-L1

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How to cite this article:
Abdelhamed S, Ogura K, Yokoyama S, Saiki I, Hayakawa Y. AKT-STAT3 Pathway as a Downstream Target of EGFR Signaling to Regulate PD-L1 Expression on NSCLC cells. J Cancer 2016; 7(12):1579-1586. doi:10.7150/jca.14713. Available from http://www.jcancer.org/v07p1579.htm