Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date





Volume 8, Issue 12

Inclusive Pages

Article number e83521


Inhibitor of Differentiation Protein 2--metabolism; Neuroblastoma--pathology; Transforming Growth Factor beta--metabolism


The ability of high-risk neuroblastoma to survive unfavorable growth conditions and multimodal therapy has produced an elusive childhood cancer with remarkably poor prognosis. A novel phenomenon enabling neuroblastoma to survive selection pressure is its capacity for reversible adaptive plasticity. This plasticity allows cells to transition between highly proliferative anchorage dependent (AD) and slow growing, anoikis-resistant anchorage independent (AI) phenotypes. Both phenotypes are present in established mouse and human tumors. The differential gene expression profile of the two cellular phenotypes in the mouse Neuro2a cell line delineated pathways of proliferation in AD cells or tyrosine kinase activation/ apoptosis inhibition in AI cells. A 20 fold overexpression of inhibitor of differentiation 2 (Id2) was identified in AD cells while up-regulation of genes involved in anoikis resistance like PI3K/Akt, Erk, Bcl2 and integrins was observed in AI cells. Similarly, differential expression of Id2 and other genes of interest were also observed in the AD and AI phenotypes of human neuroblastoma cell lines, SK-N-SH and IMR-32; as well as in primary human tumor specimens. Forced down-regulation of Id2 in AD cells or overexpression in AI cells induced the cells to gain characteristics of the other phenotype. Id2 binds both TGFβ and Smad2/3 and appears critical for maintaining the proliferative phenotype at least partially through negative regulation of the TGFβ/Smad pathway. Simultaneously targeting the differential molecular pathways governing reversible adaptive plasticity resulted in 50% cure of microscopic disease and delayed tumor growth in established mouse neuroblastoma tumors. We present a mechanism that accounts for reversible adaptive plasticity and a molecular basis for combined targeted therapies in neuroblastoma.


Reproduced with permission of PLoS ONE.

Peer Reviewed


Open Access