J Wu, DM Patmore, E Jousma, DW Eaves, K Breving, AV Patel, EB Schwartz, JR Fuchs, TP Cripe, AO Stemmer-Rachamimov, N Ratner
Malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumors (MPNSTs) develop sporadically or in the context of neurofibromatosis type 1. Epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) overexpression has been implicated in MPNST formation, but its precise role and relevant signaling pathways remain unknown. We found that EGFR overexpression promotes mouse neurofibroma transformation to aggressive MPNST (GEM-PNST). Immunohistochemistry demonstrated phosphorylated STAT3 (Tyr705) in both human MPNST and mouse GEM-PNST. A specific JAK2/STAT3 inhibitor FLLL32 delayed MPNST formation in an MPNST xenograft nude mouse model. STAT3 knockdown by shRNA prevented MPNST formation in vivo. Finally, reducing EGFR activity strongly reduced pSTAT3 in vivo. Thus, an EGFR-STAT3 pathway is necessary for MPNST transformation and establishment of MPNST xenografts growth but not for tumor maintenance. Efficacy of the FLLL32 pharmacological inhibitor in delaying MPNST growth suggests that combination therapies targeting JAK/STAT3 might be useful therapeutics.