EWI2 promotes endolysosome-mediated turnover of growth factor receptors and integrins to suppress lung cancer

Document Type


Publication Date



Department of Biomedical Engineering


As a partner of tetraspanins, EWI2 suppresses glioblastoma, melanoma, and prostate cancer; but its role in lung cancer has not been investigated. Bioinformatics analysis reveals that EWI2 gene expression is up regulated in lung adenocarcinoma and higher expression of EWI2 mRNA may predict poorer overall survival. However, experimental analysis shows that EWI2 protein is actually downregulated constantly in the tissues of lung adenocarcinoma and lung squamous cell carcinoma. Forced expression of EWI2 in human lung adenocarcinoma cells reduces total cellular and cell surface levels of various integrins and growth factor receptors, which initiates the outside-in motogenic and mitogenic signaling. These reductions result in the decreases in 1) cell-matrix adhesion, cell movement, and cell transformation in vitro and 2) tumor growth, burden, and metastasis in vivo, and result from the increases in lysosomal trafficking and proteolytic degradation of theses membrane receptors. EWI2 elevates lysosome formation by promoting nuclear retention of TFEB, the master transcription factor driving lysosomogenesis. In conclusion, EWI2 as a lung cancer suppressor attenuates lung cancer cells in a comprehensive fashion by inhibiting both tumor growth and tumor metastasis; EWI2 as an endolysosome regulator promotes lysosome activity to enhance lysosomal degradation of growth factor receptors and integrins and then reduce their levels and functions; and EWI2 can become a promising therapeutic candidate given its accessibility at the cell surface, dual inhibition on growth factor receptors and integrins, and broad-spectrum anti-cancer activity. More importantly, our observations also provide a novel therapeutic strategy to bypass the resistance to EGFR inhibitors.

Publication Title

Cancer letters