Rhabdomyosarcoma (RMS) is the most common pediatric soft tissue sarcoma for which subsets of patients have longstanding unmet clinical needs. For example, children with alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma and metastases at diagnosis will experience only 8% disease-free 5-year survival for nonlocalized unresectable recurrent disease. Hence, development of novel therapeutic strategies is urgently needed to improve outcomes. The Plexin-Semaphorin pathway is largely unexplored for sarcoma research. However, emerging interest in the Plexin-Semaphorin signaling axis in pediatric sarcomas has led to phase I cooperative group dose-finding clinical trials, now completed (NCT03320330). In this study, we specifically investigated the protein expression of transmembrane receptor Plexin-B2 and its cognate SEMA4C ligands in clinical RMS tumors and cell models. By RNA interferences, we assessed the role of Plexin-B2 in cell growth and cell migration ability in selected alveolar and embryonal RMS cell model systems. Our results affirmed expression of Plexin-B2 across human samples, while also dissecting expression of the different protein subunits of Plexin-B2 along with the assessment of preferred Semaphorin ligands of Plexin-B2. Plexin-B2 knockdown had positive or negative effects on cell growth, which varied by cell model system. Migration assayed after Plexin-B2 knockdown revealed selective cell line specific migration inhibition, which was independent of Plexin-B2 expression level. Overall, these findings are suggestive of context-specific and possibly patient-specific (stochastic) role of Plexin-B2 and SEMA4 ligands in RMS.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging