Reprogramming of cancer-associated fibroblasts by apoptotic cancer cells inhibits lung metastasis via Notch1-WISP-1 signaling

Hee Ja Kim, Kyungwon Yang, Kiyoon Kim, Ye‐Ji ‐J Lee, Sieun Lee, Sung Yong Ahn, Young‐Ho ‐H Ahn, Jihee Lee Kang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


The interplay between apoptotic cancer cells and the tumor microenvironment modulates cancer progression and metastasis. Cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs) play a crucial role in promoting these events through paracrine communication. Here, we demonstrate that conditioned medium (CM) from lung CAFs exposed to apoptotic cancer cells suppresses TGF-β1-induced migration and invasion of cancer cells and CAFs. Direct exposure of CAFs to apoptotic 344SQ cells (ApoSQ) inhibited CAF migration and invasion and the expression of CAF activation markers. Enhanced secretion of Wnt‐induced signaling protein 1 (WISP-1) by CAFs exposed to ApoSQ was required for these antimigratory and anti-invasive effects. Pharmacological inhibition of Notch1 activation or siRNA-mediated Notch1 silencing prevented WISP-1 production by CAFs and reversed the antimigratory and anti-invasive effects. Enhanced expression of the Notch ligand delta-like protein 1 on the surface of ultraviolet-irradiated apoptotic lung cancer cells triggered Notch1-WISP-1 signaling. Phosphatidylserine receptor brain-specific angiogenesis inhibitor 1 (BAI1)-Rac1 signaling, which facilitated efferocytosis by CAFs, participated in crosstalk with Notch1 signaling for optimal production of WISP-1. In addition, a single injection of ApoSQ enhanced WISP-1 production, suppressed the expression of CAF activation markers in isolated Thy1+ CAFs, and inhibited lung metastasis in syngeneic immunocompetent mice via Notch1 signaling. Treatment with CM from CAFs exposed to ApoSQ suppressed tumor growth and lung metastasis, whereas treatment with WISP-1-immunodepleted CM from CAFs exposed to ApoSQ reversed the antitumorigenic and antimetastatic effects. Therefore, treatment with CM from CAFs exposed to apoptotic lung cancer cells could be therapeutically applied to suppress CAF activation, thereby preventing cancer progression and metastasis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1373-1391
Number of pages19
JournalCellular and Molecular Immunology
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2022


  • Apoptotic lung cancer cells
  • CAFs
  • Efferocytosis
  • Invasion
  • Metastasis
  • Migration
  • Notch1
  • WISP-1


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