Inflammatory breast cancer cells are characterized by abrogated TGFβ1-dependent cell motility and SMAD3 activity.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

PURPOSE: Inflammatory breast cancer (IBC) is an aggressive form of breast cancer with elevated metastatic potential, characterized by tumor emboli in dermal and parenchymal lymph vessels. This study has investigated the hypothesis that TGFβ signaling is implicated in the molecular biology of IBC. METHODS: TGFβ1-induced cell motility and gene expression patterns were investigated in three IBC and three non-IBC (nIBC) cell lines. Tissue samples from IBC and nIBC patients were investigated for the expression of nuclear SMAD2, SMAD3, and SMAD4. SMAD protein levels were related to gene expression data. RESULTS: TGFβ1-induced cell motility was strongly abrogated in IBC cells (P = 0.003). Genes differentially expressed between IBC and nIBC cells post TGFβ1 exposure revealed attenuated expression of SMAD3 transcriptional regulators, but overexpression of MYC target genes in IBC. IBC patient samples demonstrated a near absence of SMAD3 and -4 expression in the primary tumor compared to nIBC patient samples (P < 0.001) and a further reduction of staining intensity in tumor emboli. Integration of gene and protein expression data revealed that a substantial fraction of the IBC signature genes correlated with SMAD3 and these genes are indicative of attenuated SMAD3 signaling in IBC. CONCLUSION: We demonstrate attenuated SMAD3 transcriptional activity and SMAD protein expression in IBC, together with obliterated TGFβ1-induced IBC cell motility. The further reduction of nuclear SMAD expression levels in tumor emboli suggests that the activity of these transcription factors is involved in the metastatic dissemination of IBC cells, possibly by enabling collective invasion after partial EMT.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Rypens, C; Marsan, M; Van Berckelaer, C; Billiet, C; Melis, K; Lopez, SP; van Dam, P; Devi, GR; Finetti, P; Ueno, NT; Bertucci, F; Dirix, P; Neven, P; Vermeulen, P; Dirix, L; Van Laere, SJ

Published Date

  • April 2020

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 180 / 2

Start / End Page

  • 385 - 395

PubMed ID

  • 32043194

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1573-7217

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1007/s10549-020-05571-z


  • eng

Conference Location

  • Netherlands