MASTL induces Colon Cancer progression and Chemoresistance by promoting Wnt/β-catenin signaling

Srijayaprakash Babu Uppada, Saiprasad Gowrikumar, Rizwan Ahmad, Balawant Kumar, Bryan Szeglin, Xi Chen, J. Joshua Smith, Surinder K. Batra, Amar B. Singh, Punita Dhawan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


Background: Chemotherapeutic agents that modulate cell cycle checkpoints and/or tumor-specific pathways have shown immense promise in preclinical and clinical studies aimed at anti-cancer therapy. MASTL (Greatwall in Xenopus and Drosophila), a serine/threonine kinase controls the final G2/M checkpoint and prevents premature entry of cells into mitosis. Recent studies suggest that MASTL expression is highly upregulated in cancer and confers resistance against chemotherapy. However, the role and mechanism/s of MASTL mediated regulation of tumorigenesis remains poorly understood. Methods: We utilized a large patient cohort and mouse models of colon cancer as well as colon cancer cells to determine the role of Mastl and associated mechanism in colon cancer. Results: Here, we show that MASTL expression increases in colon cancer across all cancer stages compared with normal colon tissue (P < 0.001). Also, increased levels of MASTL associated with high-risk of the disease and poor prognosis. Further, the shRNA silencing of MASTL expression in colon cancer cells induced cell cycle arrest and apoptosis in vitro and inhibited xenograft-tumor growth in vivo. Mechanistic analysis revealed that MASTL expression facilitates colon cancer progression by promoting the β-catenin/Wnt signaling, the key signaling pathway implicated in colon carcinogenesis, and up-regulating anti-apoptotic proteins, Bcl-xL and Survivin. Further studies where colorectal cancer (CRC) cells were subjected to 5-fluorouracil (5FU) treatment revealed a sharp increase in MASTL expression upon chemotherapy, along with increases in Bcl-xL and Survivin expression. Most notably, inhibition of MASTL in these cells induced chemosensitivity to 5FU with downregulation of Survivin and Bcl-xL expression. Conclusion: Overall, our data shed light on the heretofore-undescribed mechanistic role of MASTL in key oncogenic signaling pathway/s to regulate colon cancer progression and chemo-resistance that would tremendously help to overcome drug resistance in colon cancer treatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number111
JournalMolecular Cancer
Issue number1
StatePublished - Aug 1 2018


  • Colon cancer
  • Wnt signaling and MASTL

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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