Bone-related genes expressed in advanced malignancies induce invasion and metastasis in a genetically defined human cancer model.
We employed a genetically defined human cancer model to investigate the contributions of two genes up-regulated in several cancers to phenotypic changes associated with late stages of tumorigenesis. Specifically, tumor cells expressing two structurally unrelated bone-related genes, osteonectin and osteoactivin, acquired a highly invasive phenotype when implanted intracranially in immunocompromised mice. Mimicking a subset of gliomas, tumor cells invaded brain along blood vessels and developed altered vasculature at the brain-tumor interface, suggesting that production of those two proteins by tumor cells may create a complex relationship between invading tumor and vasculature co-opted during tumor invasion. Interestingly, the same tumor cells formed massive spontaneous metastases when implanted subcutaneously. This dramatic alteration in tumor phenotype indicates that cellular microenvironment plays an important role in defining the specific effects of those gene products in tumor behavior. In vitro examination of tumor cells expressing either osteonectin or osteoactivin revealed that there was no impact on cellular growth or death but increased invasiveness and expression of MMP-9 and MMP-3. Specific pharmacologic inhibitors of MMP-2/9 and MMP-3 blocked the increased in vitro invasion associated with osteoactivin expression, but only MMP-3 inhibition altered the invasive in vitro phenotype mediated by osteonectin. Results from this genetically defined model system are supported by similar findings obtained from several established tumor cell lines derived originally from human patients. In sum, these results reveal that the expression of a single bone-related gene can dramatically alter or modify tumor cell behavior and may confer differential growth characteristics in different microenvironments. Genetically defined human cancer models offer useful tools in functional genomics to define the roles of specific genes in late stages of carcinogenesis.
Rich, JN; Shi, Q; Hjelmeland, M; Cummings, TJ; Kuan, C-T; Bigner, DD; Counter, CM; Wang, X-F
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