Siaw JT, Gabre JL, Uçkun E, Vigny M, Zhang W, Van den Eynden J, Hallberg B, Palmer RH, Guan J
Cancers (Basel) 13 (8) - [2021-04-15; online 2021-04-15]
Aberrant activation of anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK) drives neuroblastoma (NB). Previous work identified the RET receptor tyrosine kinase (RTK) as a downstream target of ALK activity in NB models. We show here that ALK activation in response to ALKAL2 ligand results in the rapid phosphorylation of RET in NB cells, providing additional insight into the contribution of RET to the ALK-driven gene signature in NB. To further address the role of RET in NB, RET knockout (KO) SK-N-AS cells were generated by CRISPR/Cas9 genome engineering. Gene expression analysis of RET KO NB cells identified a reprogramming of NB cells to a mesenchymal (MES) phenotype that was characterized by increased migration and upregulation of the AXL and MNNG HOS transforming gene (MET) RTKs, as well as integrins and extracellular matrix components. Strikingly, the upregulation of AXL in the absence of RET reflects the development timeline observed in the neural crest as progenitor cells undergo differentiation during embryonic development. Together, these findings suggest that a MES phenotype is promoted in mesenchymal NB cells in the absence of RET, reflective of a less differentiated developmental status.