THY1 (CD90) Maintains the Adherens Junctions in Nasopharyngeal Carcinoma via Inhibition of SRC Activation

Luo Chen, Wai Yin Chau, Hei Tung Yuen, Xiao Han Liu, Robert Zhong Qi, Maria Li Lung, Hong Lok Lung*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


We had previously shown that THY1 (CD90) is a tumor suppressor in nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC) and that its down-regulation and loss of expression are associated with tumor metastasis, yet the mechanism leading to such effects remains unknown. In this study we show that tumor invasion could be suppressed by THY1 via adherens junction formation in a few NPC cell lines, and knockdown of THY1 would disrupt this cell-cell adhesion phenotype. Mechanistically, the activity of the SRC family kinase (SFK) member, SRC, and canonical Wnt signaling were dramatically reduced when THY1 was constitutively expressed. Previous studies by others have found that high levels of SRC activity in NPCs are associated with EMT and a poor prognosis. We hypothesized that THY1 can suppress tumor invasion in NPC via inhibition of SRC. By gene silencing of SRC, we found that the in vitro NPC cell invasion was significantly reduced and adherens junctions were restored. Through proteomic analysis, we identified that platelet-derived growth factor receptor β (PDGF-Rβ) and protein tyrosine phosphatase nonreceptor type 22 (PTPN22) are novel and potential binding partners of THY1, which were subsequently verified by co-immunoprecipitation (co-IP) analysis. The ligand of PDGF-Rβ (PDGF-BB) could highly induce SRC activation and NPC cell invasion, which could be almost completely suppressed by THY1 expression. On the other hand, the PTPN22 siRNA could enhance both the SRC activities and the cell invasion and could also disrupt the adherens junctions in the THY1-expressing NPC cells; the original THY1-induced phenotypes were reverted when the PTPN22 expression was reduced. Together, our results identified that PTPN22 is essential for THY1 to suppress cell invasion and SRC activity, maintain tight adherens junctions, and prevent NPC metastasis. These results suggested that PDGF-Rβ and SRC can be used as drug targets for suppressing NPC metastasis. Indeed, our in vivo assay using the SRC inhibitor KX2-391, clearly showed that inhibition of SRC signaling can prevent the metastasis of NPC, indicating that targeting SRC can be a promising approach to control the NPC progression.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2189
Number of pages17
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2023

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research

User-Defined Keywords

  • adherens junctions
  • CD90
  • NPC
  • PDGF-Rβ
  • PTPN22
  • SRC
  • THY1


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