Journal of Gastroenterology

, Volume 50, Issue 6, pp 645–656 | Cite as

Overexpression of NRG1 promotes progression of gastric cancer by regulating the self-renewal of cancer stem cells

  • Myoung-Eun Han
  • Hyun-Jung Kim
  • Dong Hoon Shin
  • Sun-Hwi Hwang
  • Chi-Dug Kang
  • Sae-Ock OhEmail author
Original Article—Alimentary Tract



Gastric cancer stem cells (GCSCs) have been successfully isolated from patients. However, the molecular mechanisms underlying the self-renewal of GCSCs and their relationship with the microenvironment are poorly characterized.


GCSCs and cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs) were cultured directly from gastric cancer patients. The self-renewal of GCSCs was assayed by sphere formation assay and in vivo tumorigenicity. Expression of neuregulin1 (NRG1) was examined by immunohistochemistry, real-time PCR and western blotting.


CAFs increased the self-renewal of GCSCs by secreting NRG1. NRG1 activated NF-κB signaling and this activation regulated GCSC self-renewal. Moreover, NF-κB-active GCSCs were tumorigenic, however NF-κB-inactive GCSCs were not. The overexpression of NRG1 in stromal cells and cancer cells was observed in the tumor tissues of gastric cancer patients and was associated with clinical stage lymph node metastasis and survival in gastric cancer patients. In addition, we also found that NRG1 can regulate the proliferation and invasion of gastric cancer cells.


These results indicate that NRG1, which can be secreted by CAFs or cancer cells, promotes progression of gastric cancer by regulating the self-renewal of GCSCs and its overexpression is associated with a prognosis of gastric cancer.


NRG1 Gastric cancer stem cells Cancer-associated fibroblasts 



This work was supported by the Bio & Medical Technology Development Program (2012M3A9C6050213) and the Basic Science Research Foundation (2012R1A1A3010521) of the National Research Foundation (NRF) funded by the Korean government (MEST) and a grant from the National R&D Program for Cancer Control, Ministry for Health, Welfare and Family Affairs, Republic of Korea (0920050).

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

535_2014_1008_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (100 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 99 kb)
535_2014_1008_MOESM2_ESM.pdf (162 kb)
Supplementary material 2 (PDF 162 kb)
535_2014_1008_MOESM3_ESM.pdf (104 kb)
Supplementary material 3 (PDF 104 kb)
535_2014_1008_MOESM4_ESM.pdf (151 kb)
Supplementary material 4 (PDF 151 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Japan 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Myoung-Eun Han
    • 1
  • Hyun-Jung Kim
    • 1
  • Dong Hoon Shin
    • 2
  • Sun-Hwi Hwang
    • 3
  • Chi-Dug Kang
    • 4
  • Sae-Ock Oh
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Anatomy, School of MedicinePusan National UniversityYangsanSouth Korea
  2. 2.Department of Pathology, School of MedicinePusan National UniversityYangsanRepublic of Korea
  3. 3.Department of Surgery, School of MedicinePusan National UniversityYangsanRepublic of Korea
  4. 4.Department of Biochemistry, School of MedicinePusan National UniversityYangsanRepublic of Korea

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