Retinoic acid induces differentiation in neuroblastoma via ROR1 by modulating retinoic acid response elements
- Abhinav Illendula
- Norman Fultang
- Bela Peethambaran
Affiliations: Department of Biology, University of The Sciences in Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA
- Published online on: July 7, 2020 https://doi.org/10.3892/or.2020.7681
Copyright: © Illendula
et al. This is an open access article distributed under the
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Neuroblastoma is the most common inheritable, solid neoplasm in children found under the age of 7 and accounts for approximately 7% of childhood cancers. A common treatment that has been prescribed for over a decade is retinoid therapy [using all‑trans retinoic acid (RA)]. Treatment with this differentiating agent has been revealed to progress the cells from their stem‑cell state to a mature neuronal state gaining classical neuronal characteristics, including the suppression of proliferation. However, the molecular mechanism underlying the action of RA treatment remains to be elucidated. In the present study, a novel mechanism of RA‑induced differentiation via regulation of receptor tyrosine kinase‑like orphan receptor 1 (ROR1) is reported. ROR1 is overexpressed in neuroblastoma but significantly downregulated in mature differentiated neurons. Hence, it was hypothesized that RA may modulate ROR1 leading to differentiation and termination of cancerous properties. Immunoblotting revealed that following RA treatment, ROR1 levels initially increased then sharply decreased by 96 h. This was paired with synaptophysin, a mature neuron marker, sharply increasing concurrently, providing evidence of differentiation by 96 h. Investigation of the ROR1 pathway confirmed ROR1‑dependent downstream activation of the PI3K/AKT signaling axis, a growth pathway previously demonstrated to promote differentiation. Chromatin immunoprecipitation revealed an increase in RAR binding to the promoters of ROR1 and its endogenous ligand, Wnt5a. This research provided compelling evidence that RA is able to modulate the expression of ROR1 and Wnt5a to promote differentiation through the expression of synaptophysin. This data combined with the overarching data from the scientific community regarding proliferation and other proliferative factors in early‑stage neurons provides a more in‑depth model of the process of differentiation in neurons.