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Interaction of tumor cells and astrocytes promotes breast cancer brain metastases through TGF-β2/ANGPTL4 axes. NPJ Precis Oncol 2019;3:24



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Metastatic outcomes depend on the interactions of metastatic cells with a specific organ microenvironment. Our previous studies have shown that triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) MDA-MB-231 cells passaged in astrocyte-conditioned medium (ACM) show proclivity to form brain metastases, but the underlying mechanism is unknown. The combination of microarray analysis, qPCR, and ELISA assay were carried out to demonstrate the ACM-induced expression of angiopoietin-like 4 (ANGPTL4) in TNBC cells. A stable ANGPTL4-knockdown MDA-MB-231 cell line was generated by ANGPTL4 short-hairpin RNA (shRNA) and inoculated into mice via left ventricular injection to evaluate the role of ANGPTL4 in brain metastasis formation. The approaches of siRNA, neutralizing antibodies, inhibitors, and immunoprecipitation were used to demonstrate the involved signaling molecules. We first found that ACM-conditioned TNBC cells upregulated the expression of ANGPTL4, a secreted glycoprotein whose effect on tumor progression is known to be tumor microenvironment- and tumor-type dependent. Knockdown of ANGPTL4 in TNBC MDA-MB-231 cells with shRNA decreased ACM-induced tumor cell metastatic growth in the brain and attributed to survival in a mouse model. Furthermore, we identified that astrocytes produced transforming growth factor-beta 2 (TGF-β2), which in part is responsible for upregulation of ANGPTL4 expression in TNBC through induction of SMAD signaling. Moreover, we identified that tumor cells communicate with astrocytes, where tumor cell-derived interleukin-1 beta (IL-1β) and tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α) increased the expression of TGF-β2 in astrocytes. Collectively, these findings indicate that the invading TNBC cells interact with astrocytes in the brain microenvironment that facilitates brain metastases of TNBC cells through a TGF-β2/ANGPTL4 axis. This provides groundwork to target ANGPTL4 as a treatment for breast cancer brain metastases.

Author List

Gong X, Hou Z, Endsley MP, Gronseth EI, Rarick KR, Jorns JM, Yang Q, Du Z, Yan K, Bordas ML, Gershan J, Deepak P, Geethadevi A, Chaluvally-Raghavan P, Fan Y, Harder DR, Ramchandran R, Wang L


Pradeep Chaluvally-Raghavan PhD Associate Professor in the Obstetrics and Gynecology department at Medical College of Wisconsin
Julie M. Jorns MD Associate Professor in the Pathology department at Medical College of Wisconsin
Ramani Ramchandran PhD Professor in the Pediatrics department at Medical College of Wisconsin
Kevin Richard Rarick PhD Assistant Professor in the Pediatrics department at Medical College of Wisconsin

jenkins-FCD Prod-484 8aa07fc50b7f6d102f3dda2f4c7056ff84294d1d