Ret kinase-mediated mechanical induction of colon stem cells by tumor growth pressure stimulates cancer progression in vivo
AbstractHow mechanical stress actively impacts the physiology and pathophysiology of cells and tissues is little investigated in vivo. The colon is constantly submitted to multi-frequency spontaneous pulsatile mechanical waves, which highest frequency functions, of 2 s period, remain poorly understood. Here we find in vivo that high frequency pulsatile mechanical stresses maintain the physiological level of mice colon stem cells (SC) through the mechanosensitive Ret kinase. When permanently stimulated by a magnetic mimicking-tumor growth analogue pressure, we find that SC levels pathologically increase and undergo mechanically induced hyperproliferation and tumorigenic transformation. To mimic the high frequency pulsatile mechanical waves, we used a generator of pulsed magnetic force stimulation in colonic tissues pre-magnetized with ultra-magnetic liposomes. We observed the pulsatile stresses using last generation ultra-wave dynamical high-resolution imaging. Finally, we find that the specific pharmacological inhibition of Ret mechanical activation induces the regression of spontaneous formation of SC, of CSC markers, and of spontaneous sporadic tumorigenesis in Apc mutated mice colons. Consistently, in human colon cancer tissues, Ret activation in epithelial cells increases with tumor grade, and partially decreases in leaking invasive carcinoma. High frequency pulsatile physiological mechanical stresses thus constitute a new niche that Ret-dependently fuels mice colon physiological SC level. This process is pathologically over-activated in the presence of permanent pressure due to the growth of tumors initiated by pre-existing genetic alteration, leading to mechanotransductive self-enhanced tumor progression in vivo, and repressed by pharmacological inhibition of Ret.