During normal development, heterogeneous expression of Notch ligands can result in pathway suppression in the signal-sending cell, a process known as lateral inhibition. It is unclear if an analogous phenomenon occurs in malignant cells. We observed significant induction of Notch ligands in glioblastoma neurospheres and pancreatic carcinoma cells cultured in low oxygen, suggesting that this phenomenon could occur around hypoxic regions. To model lateral inhibition in these tumors, the ligand Jagged1 was overexpressed in glioblastoma and pancreatic carcinoma cells, resulting in overall induction of pathway targets. However, when ligand high and ligand low cells from a single line were co-cultured and then separated, we noted suppression of Notch pathway targets in the former and induction in the latter, suggesting that neoplastic lateral inhibition can occur. We also found that repression of Notch pathway targets in signal-sending cells may occur through the activity of a Notch ligand intracellular domain, which translocates into the nucleus. Understanding how this neoplastic lateral inhibition process functions in cancer cells may be important in targeting ligand driven Notch signaling in solid tumors.
- Lateral inhibition
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