Participation of the Fas/FasL signaling pathway and the lung microenvironment in the development of osteosarcoma lung metastases

Gangxiong Huang, Kazumasa Nishimoto, Yuanzheng Yang, Eugenie S. Kleinerman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


The lungs are the most common site for the metastatic spread of osteosarcoma. Success in using chemotherapy to improve overall survival has reached a plateau. Understanding the biologic properties that permit osteosarcoma cells to grow in the lungs may allow the identifi cation of novel therapeutic approaches—the goal being to alter the tumor cells’ expression of cell surface proteins so that there is no longer compatibility with the metastatic niche. We have demonstrated that the Fas Ligand positive (FasL+) lung microenvironment eliminates Fas+ osteosarcoma cells that metastasize to the lungs. Indeed, osteosarcoma lung metastases from patients are Fas-, similar to what we found in several different mouse models. The Fas+ cells are cleared from the lungs through apoptosis induced by the Fas signaling pathway following interaction of Fas on the tumor cell surface with the lung FasL. Blocking the Fas signaling pathway interferes with this process, allowing the Fas+ cells to grow in the lungs. Our investigations show that Fas expression in osteosarcoma cells is regulated epigenetically by the micro-RNA miR-20a, encoded by the miR-17-92 cluster. Our studies support the feasibility of fi nding agents that can re- induce Fas expression as a novel therapeutic approach to treat osteosarcoma patients with lung metastases. We have identifi ed two such agents, the histone deacetylase inhibitor entinostat and the chemotherapeutic agent gemcitabine (GCB). Aerosol GCB and oral entinostat induce the upregulation of Fas and the regression of established osteosarcoma lung metastases. Aerosol GCB was not effective in the FasL- defi cient gld mouse confi rming that the lung microenviron-ment was central to the success of this therapy. Our studies establish the critical role of the lung microenvironment in the metastatic process of osteosarcoma to the lungs and suggest an alternative focus for therapy, that is, incorporating the lung microen-vironment as part of the treatment strategy against established osteosarcoma disease in the lungs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)203-217
Number of pages15
JournalAdvances in experimental medicine and biology
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • C-FLIP
  • Entinostat
  • Fas
  • FasL
  • Gemcitabine
  • Histone deacetylase inhibitors
  • MiR-20a
  • MicroRNA-17-92 cluster
  • Osteosarcoma
  • Pulmonary metastasis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry,Genetics and Molecular Biology


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