The tumor microenvironment plays a central role in cancer initiation and progression. CD248 is expressed in tumor-associated stromal cells, particularly fibroblasts and pericytes. Exploring the function of CD248 has the potential to provide biological insights into tumor-supportive stroma and potential therapeutic targets. Here, we investigated the role of stromal CD248 in lung cancer. In orthotopic lung cancer transplantation models, tumor volume, density of vessels and pericytes, and functionality of tumor vessels were all lower in mice lacking Cd248 (Cd248LacZ/LacZ) compared to Cd248 wild-type or haploinsufficient mice. Two angiogenic factors, OPN and SERPINE1, were decreased in Cd248LacZ/LacZ pericytes, and supplementation with both factors rescued their proliferation and endothelial cell tube formation-promoting ability. Mechanistically, Wnt/β-catenin signaling induced Opn and Serpine1 expression and was suppressed in Cd248LacZ/LacZ pericytes. CD248 interacted with Wnt pathway repressors IGFBP4 and LGALS3BP, leading to increased Wnt/β-catenin signaling. Correspondingly, administration of a β-catenin inhibitor in Cd248+/LacZ mice mimicked the effect of Cd248 loss and blocked the growth of transplanted lung tumor cells that were resistant to this inhibitor in vitro. In addition, CD248+ pericytes co-expressed OPN and SERPINE1 and correlated with increased tumor size in human lung cancer. Additionally, high expression of CD248, OPN, and SERPINE1 associated with poor survival in lung cancer patients. In summary, CD248 de-represses Wnt signaling and upregulates OPN and SERPINE1 in pericytes, resulting in enhanced angiogenesis and lung cancer growth. This novel axis of CD248-Wnt signaling-angiogenic factors in pericytes provides a potential target for lung cancer therapy.

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