Development of chemotherapy resistance is a major problem in ovarian cancer. One understudied mechanism of chemoresistance is the induction of quiescence, a reversible nonproliferative state. Unfortunately, little is known about regulators of quiescence. Here, we identify the master transcription factor nuclear factor of activated T cells cytoplasmic 4 (NFATC4) as a regulator of quiescence in ovarian cancer. NFATC4 is enriched in ovarian cancer stem-like cells and correlates with decreased proliferation and poor prognosis. Treatment of cancer cells with cisplatin resulted in NFATC4 nuclear translocation and activation of the NFATC4 pathway, while inhibition of the pathway increased chemotherapy response. Induction of NFATC4 activity resulted in a marked decrease in proliferation, G0 cell cycle arrest, and chemotherapy resistance, both in vitro and in vivo. Finally, NFATC4 drove a quiescent phenotype in part via downregulation of MYC. Together, these data identify NFATC4 as a driver of quiescence and a potential new target to combat chemoresistance in ovarian cancer.
Alexander J. Cole, Mangala Iyengar, Santiago Panesso-Gómez, Patrick O’Hayer, Daniel Chan, Greg M. Delgoffe, Katherine M. Aird, Euisik Yoon, Shoumei Bai, Ronald J. Buckanovich