J Cancer 2022; 13(1):290-303. doi:10.7150/jca.62787 This issue

Research Paper

HER4 Promotes Osteosarcoma Progression and Predicts Poor Prognosis through the PTEN-PI3K/AKT Pathway

Kun Ma✉*, Chuan Zhang*

Luoyang Orthopaedic Hospital of Henan Province & Orthopaedic Hospital of Henan Province, Luoyang, Henan 471002, China.
* Contributed equally

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Ma K, Zhang C. HER4 Promotes Osteosarcoma Progression and Predicts Poor Prognosis through the PTEN-PI3K/AKT Pathway. J Cancer 2022; 13(1):290-303. doi:10.7150/jca.62787. Available from https://www.jcancer.org/v13p0290.htm

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Graphic abstract

Studies have reported a relationship between human epidermal growth factor receptor 4 (HER4), a ubiquitously expressed and unique member of the ErbB family, and clinicopathological features of osteosarcoma. However, further investigation is warranted. HER4 expression was analyzed by quantitative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction, western blotting, and immunohistochemistry. The relationship between HER4 expression and the prognosis of patients with osteosarcoma was determined by constructing a Kaplan-Meier curve. Cell viability and proliferation were investigated by MTT and colony formation assays. The mechanism underlying HER4-modulated proliferation and invasion/migration of osteosarcoma cells was determined by short hairpin RNA (shRNA) interference, colony formation, migration, invasion, and western blotting experiments. Spheroid formation assay and CD133+ cell populations were used to examine HER4-induced stem-like traits.

The present findings revealed that HER4 was overexpressed in both osteosarcoma cells and tissues. Moreover, this overexpression was associated with high Enneking stage, metastasis, and recurrence. Sh-HER4 showed obviously suppressed cell viability, colony formation, and invasion/migration. In addition, knockdown of HER4 markedly attenuated the spheroid size and proportion of CD133-positive cells, as well as the expression of stemness markers. Sh-HER4 also reduced the tumor size, downregulated the expression of phosphorylated-PI3K (p-PI3K) and p-AKT, and increased that of p-phosphatase and tensin homolog (p-PTEN) in mouse tissue. From a mechanistic perspective, HER4 knockdown activated p-PTEN and suppressed p-PI3K and p-AKT expression. HER4 promoted osteosarcoma progression through inactivation of the PTEN-PI3K/AKT pathway.

Taken together, the results indicate that HER4 represents a novel target in osteosarcoma progression and stemness modulation, and may be of value for the development of treatments against osteosarcoma.

Keywords: HER4, osteosarcoma, invasion, stemness trait, PTEN, PI3K/mTOR pathway