Objectives: YM155, an inhibitor of interleukin enhancer-binding factor 3 (ILF3), significantly suppresses cancer stemness property, implying that ILF3 contributes to cell survival of cancer stem cells. However, the molecular function of ILF3 inhibiting cancer stemness remain unclear. This study aimed to uncover the potential function of ILF3 involving in cell survival of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR)-positive lung stem-like cancer, and investigate the potential role to improve the efficacy of anti-EGFR therapeutics.

Materials and Methods: The regulated association of EGFR and ILF3 was investigated at first. ILF3 was knockdowned and RNAseq was utilized to search for the putative genes regulated by ILF3. Meanwhile, HCC827- and A549-derived cancer stem-like cells were used to investigate the role of ILF3 in the formation of cancer stem-like tumorspheres.

Results: We found that EGFR induced ILF3 expression, and YM155 reduced EGFR expression. The knockdown of ILF3 reduced not only EGFR expression in mRNA and protein levels, but also cell proliferation in vitro and in vivo, demonstrating that ILF3 was an oncoprotein contributing to cancer cell survival. Moreover, the knockdown and inhibition of ILF3 by shRNA and YM155, respectively, reduced the formation and survival of HCC827- and A549-derived tumorspheres through inhibiting HER3/ERBB3 expression, and synergized the therapeutic efficacy of afatinib, a tyrosine kinase inhibitor, against EGFR-positive A549 lung cells.

Conclusion: This study demonstrated that ILF3 played an oncogenic role maintaining the EGFR-mediated cellular pathway as a therapeutic target to improve the therapeutic efficacy of afatinib. Therefore, we suggested that YM155, an ILF3 inhibitor, was potential for utilization in cancer therapy against the EGFR-positive cancers.

Citation Format: Chun-Chia Cheng, Kuei-Fang Chou, Cheng-Wen Wu, Nai-Wen Su, Cheng-Liang Peng, Ying-Wen Su, Jungshan Chang, Ai-Sheng Ho, Huan-Chau Lin, Caleb Gon-Shen Chen, Yu-Cheng Chang, Ken-Hong Lim, Yi-Fang Chang. EGFR-mediated interleukin enhancer-binding factor 3 contributes to formation and survival of cancer stem-like tumorspheres through regulating HER3/ERBB3 expression as a therapeutic target against EGFR-positive non-small cell lung cancer [abstract]. In: Proceedings of the American Association for Cancer Research Annual Meeting 2018; 2018 Apr 14-18; Chicago, IL. Philadelphia (PA): AACR; Cancer Res 2018;78(13 Suppl):Abstract nr 3060.