Suppressive expression of CD274 increases tumorigenesis and cancer stem cell phenotypes in cholangiocarcinoma


  • Funding Information

    Biomedical Research Core of Tohoku University School of Medicine. JSPS KAKENHI (24300326, 21791589, 24592613 and 25860572). JST CREST. Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare. Takeda Medical Foundation. Kurokawa Toshio Foundation.


Cholangiocarcinoma is an aggressive malignant tumor originating from intrahepatic or extrahepatic bile ducts. Its malignant phenotypes may be assumed by cancer stem cells (CSC). Here, we demonstrate that CD274 (PD-L1), known as an immunomodulatory ligand, has suppressive effects on CSC-related phenotypes of cholangiocarcinoma. Using two human cholangiocarcinoma cell lines, RBE and HuCCT1, we attempted to isolate the CD274low and CD274high cells from each cell line, and xenografted them into immunodeficient NOD⁄scid⁄γcnull (NOG) mice. We found that the CD274low cells isolated from both RBE and HuCCT1 are highly tumorigenic in NOG mice compared with CD274high cells. Furthermore, the CD274low cells possess several CSC-related characteristics, such as high aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH) activity, reduced reactive oxygen species production and a dormant state in the cell cycle. Furthermore, depletion of CD274 expression by shRNA in RBE cells enhances their tumorigenicity and increases ALDH activity. These findings are compatible with our observation that clinical cholangiocarcinoma specimens are classified into low and high groups for CD274 expression, and the CD274 low group shows poorer prognosis when compared with the CD274 high group. These results strongly suggest that CD274 has a novel function in the negative regulation of CSC-related phenotypes in human cholangiocarcinoma, which is distinct from its immunomodulatory actions.