H-Ras Transformation of Mammary Epithelial Cells Induces ERK-Mediated Spreading on Low Stiffness Matrix.
ABSTRACT: Oncogenic transformation of mammary epithelial cells (MECs) is a critical step in epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT), but evidence also shows that MECs undergo EMT with increasing matrix stiffness; the interplay of genetic and environmental effects on EMT is not clear. To understand their combinatorial effects on EMT, premalignant MCF10A and isogenic Ras-transformed MCF10AT are cultured on polyacrylamide gels ranging from normal mammary stiffness, ≈150 Pa, to tumor stiffness, ≈5700 Pa. Though cells spread on stiff hydrogels independent of transformation, only 10AT cells exhibit heterogeneous spreading behavior on soft hydrogels. Within this mixed population, spread cells exhibit an elongated, mesenchymal-like morphology, disrupted localization of the basement membrane, and nuclear localization of the EMT transcription factor TWIST1. MCF10AT spreading is not driven by typical mechanosensitive pathways including YAP and TGF-β or by myosin contraction. Rather, ERK activation induces spreading of MCF10AT cells on soft hydrogels and requires dynamic microtubules. These findings indicate the importance of oncogenic signals, and their hierarchy with substrate mechanics, in regulating MEC EMT.
Project description:Breast cancer development is associated with increasing tissue stiffness over years. To more accurately mimic the onset of gradual matrix stiffening, which is not feasible with conventional static hydrogels, mammary epithelial cells (MECs) were cultured on methacrylated hyaluronic acid hydrogels whose stiffness can be dynamically modulated from "normal" (<150 Pascals) to "malignant" (>3,000 Pascals) via two-stage polymerization. MECs form and remain as spheroids, but begin to lose epithelial characteristics and gain mesenchymal morphology upon matrix stiffening. However, both the degree of matrix stiffening and culture time before stiffening play important roles in regulating this conversion as, in both cases, a subset of mammary spheroids remained insensitive to local matrix stiffness. This conversion depended neither on colony size nor cell density, and MECs did not exhibit "memory" of prior niche when serially cultured through cycles of compliant and stiff matrices. Instead, the transcription factor Twist1, transforming growth factor ? (TGF?), and YAP activation appeared to modulate stiffness-mediated signaling; when stiffness-mediated signals were blocked, collective MEC phenotypes were reduced in favor of single MECs migrating away from spheroids. These data indicate a more complex interplay of time-dependent stiffness signaling, spheroid structure, and soluble cues that regulates MEC plasticity than suggested by previous models.
Project description:Transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-beta) is a ubiquitous cytokine with dual roles in tumor suppression and promotion, and these dichotomous functions have frustrated the development of therapies targeting oncogenic signaling by TGF-beta. In comparison, Abl is well established as an initiator of hematopoietic cancers; however, a clear role for Abl in regulating solid tumor development remains elusive. Here, we investigated the role of Abl in TGF-beta-mediated epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) in normal and metastatic mammary epithelial cells (MECs). In doing so, we identified Abl as an essential regulator of MEC morphology and showed that Abl inactivation was sufficient to induce phenotypic and transcriptional EMT in normal MECs. Increasing Abl activity in metastatic MECs resulted in their complete morphological reversion, restored their cytostatic response to TGF-beta, and blocked their secretion of matrix metalloproteinases induced by TGF-beta. Constitutively active Abl expression blocked TGF-beta-responsive mammary tumor growth in mice, while Imatinib therapy afforded no clinical benefit in mice bearing mammary tumors. Collectively, this investigation establishes Abl as a potent mediator of MEC identity, and as a suppressor of oncogenic TGF-beta signaling during mammary tumorigenesis. Notably, our findings strongly caution against the use of pharmacological Abl antagonists in the treatment of developing and progressing mammary tumors.
Project description:Transforming growth factor (TGF)-beta suppresses breast cancer formation by preventing cell cycle progression in mammary epithelial cells (MECs). During the course of mammary tumorigenesis, genetic and epigenetic changes negate the cytostatic actions of TGF-beta, thus enabling TGF-beta to promote the acquisition and development of metastatic phenotypes. The molecular mechanisms underlying this conversion of TGF-beta function remain poorly understood but may involve signaling inputs from integrins.beta3 Integrin expression or function in MECs was manipulated by retroviral transduction of active or inactive beta3 integrins, or by transient transfection of small interfering RNA (siRNA) against beta3 integrin. Altered proliferation, invasion, and epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) stimulated by TGF-beta in control and beta3 integrin manipulated MECs was determined. Src involvement in beta3 integrin mediated alterations in TGF-beta signaling was assessed by performing Src protein kinase assays, and by interdicting Src function pharmacologically and genetically.TGF-beta stimulation induced alphavbeta3 integrin expression in a manner that coincided with EMT in MECs. Introduction of siRNA against beta3 integrin blocked its induction by TGF-beta and prevented TGF-beta stimulation of EMT in MECs. beta3 integrin interacted physically with the TGF-beta receptor (TbetaR) type II, thereby enhancing TGF-beta stimulation of mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPKs), and of Smad2/3-mediated gene transcription in MECs. Formation of beta3 integrin:TbetaR-II complexes blocked TGF-beta mediated growth arrest and increased TGF-beta mediated invasion and EMT. Dual beta3 integrin:TbetaR-II activation induced tyrosine phosphorylation of TbetaR-II, a phosphotransferase reaction mediated by Src in vitro. Inhibiting Src activity in MECs prevented the ability of beta3 integrin to induce TbetaR-II tyrosine phosphorylation, MAPK activation, and EMT stimulated by TGF-beta. Lastly, wild-type and D119A beta3 integrin expression enhanced and abolished, respectively, TGF-beta stimulation of invasion in human breast cancer cells.We show that beta3 integrin alters TGF-beta signaling in MECs via Src-mediated TbetaR-II tyrosine phosphorylation, which significantly enhanced the ability of TGF-beta to induce EMT and invasion. Our findings suggest that beta3 integrin interdiction strategies may represent an innovative approach to re-establishing TGF-beta mediated tumor suppression in progressing human breast cancers.
Project description:Mammary tumorigenesis and epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) programs cooperate in converting transforming growth factor-? (TGF-?) from a suppressor to a promoter of breast cancer metastasis. Although previous reports associated ?1 and ?3 integrins with TGF-? stimulation of EMT and metastasis, the functional interplay and plasticity exhibited by these adhesion molecules in shaping the oncogenic activities of TGF-? remain unknown. We demonstrate that inactivation of ?1 integrin impairs TGF-? from stimulating the motility of normal and malignant mammary epithelial cells (MECs) and elicits robust compensatory expression of ?3 integrin solely in malignant MECs, but not in their normal counterparts. Compensatory ?3 integrin expression also 1) enhances the growth of malignant MECs in rigid and compliant three-dimensional organotypic cultures and 2) restores the induction of the EMT phenotypes by TGF-?. Of importance, compensatory expression of ?3 integrin rescues the growth and pulmonary metastasis of ?1 integrin-deficient 4T1 tumors in mice, a process that is prevented by genetic depletion or functional inactivation of ?3 integrin. Collectively our findings demonstrate that inactivation of ?1 integrin elicits metastatic progression via a ?3 integrin-specific mechanism, indicating that dual ?1 and ?3 integrin targeting is necessary to alleviate metastatic disease in breast cancer patients.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>Cancer development is strictly correlated to composition and physical properties of the extracellular matrix. Particularly, a higher matrix stiffness has been demonstrated to promote tumor sustained growth. Our purpose was to explore the role of matrix stiffness in liver cancer development.<h4>Methods</h4>The matrix stiffness of tumor tissues was determined by atomic force microscopy (AFM) analysis. In vitro, we used a tunable Polyacrylamide (PA) hydrogels culture system for liver cancer cells culture. The expression level of integrin β1, phosphorylated FAK, ERK1/2, and NF-κB in SMMC-7721 cells was measured by western blotting analysis. We performed MTT, colony formation and transwell assay to examine the tumorigenic and metastatic potential of SMMC-7721 cells cultured on the tunable PA hydrogels. SMMC-7721 cancer xenografts were established to explore the anticancer effects of integrin inhibitors.<h4>Results</h4>Our study provided evidence that liver tumor tissues from metastatic patients possessed a higher matrix stiffness, when compared to the non-metastatic group. Liver cancer cells cultured on high stiffness PA hydrogels displayed enhanced tumorigenic potential and migrative properties. Mechanistically, activation of integrin β1/FAK/ ERK1/2/NF-κB signaling pathway was observed in SMMC-7721 cells cultured on high stiffness PA hydrogels. Inhibition of ERK1/2, FAK, and NF-κB signaling suppressed the pro-tumor effects induced by matrix stiffness. Combination of chemotherapy and integrin β1 inhibitor suppressed the tumor growth and prolonged survival time in hepatocellular cancer xenografts.<h4>Conclusion</h4>A higher matrix stiffness equipped tumor cells with enhanced stemness and proliferative characteristics, which was dependent on the activation of integrin β1/FAK/ERK1/2/NF-κB signaling pathway. Blockade of integrin signals efficiently improved the outcome of chemotherapy, which described an innovative approach for liver cancer treatment.
Project description:Carcinoma associated fibroblasts (CAFs or myofibroblasts) are activated fibroblasts which participate in breast tumor growth, angiogenesis, invasion, metastasis and therapy resistance. As such, recent efforts have been directed toward understanding the factors responsible for activation of the phenotype. In this study, we have investigated how changes in the mechanical stiffness of a 3D hydrogel alter the behavior and myofibroblast-like properties of human mammary fibroblasts (HMFs).Here, we utilized microbial transglutaminase (mTG) to mechanically tune the stiffness of gelatin hydrogels and used rheology to show that increasing concentrations mTG resulted in hydrogels with greater elastic moduli (G'). Upon encapsulation of HMFs in 200 (compliant), 300 (moderate) and 1100 Pa (stiff) mTG hydrogels, it was found that the HMFs remained viable and proliferated over the 7 day culture period. Specifically, rates of proliferation were greatest for HMFs in moderate hydrogels. Regarding morphology, HMFs in compliant and moderate hydrogels exhibited a spindle-like morphology while HMFs in stiff hydrogels exhibited a rounded morphology with several large cellular protrusions. Quantification of cell morphology revealed that HMFs cultured in all mTG hydrogels overall assumed a more elongated phenotype over time in culture; however, few significant differences in morphology were observed between HMFs in each of the hydrogel conditions. To determine whether matrix stiffness upregulated expression of ECM and myofibroblast markers, western blot was performed on HMFs in compliant, moderate and stiff hydrogels. It was found that ECM and myofibroblast proteins varied in expression during both the culture period and according to matrix stiffness with no clear correlation between matrix stiffness and a myofibroblast phenotype. Finally, TGF-? levels were quantified in the conditioned media from HMFs in compliant, moderate and stiff hydrogels. TGF-? was significantly greater for HMFs encapsulated in stiff hydrogels.Overall, these results show that while HMFs are viable and proliferate in mTG hydrogels, increasing matrix stiffness of mTG gelatin hydrogels doesn't support a robust myofibroblast phenotype from HMFs. These results have important implications for further understanding how modulating 3D matrix stiffness affects fibroblast morphology and activation into a myofibroblast phenotype.
Project description:Primary human hepatic stellate cells (HSCs) isolated from healthy patients were purchased from Sciencell. They were seeded on either 400 Pa or 25000 Pa polyacrylamide hydrogels for 2 days and collected for RNA isolation. The goal of this study is to determine genes transcriptionally regulated by a stiff matrix. 2 RNA samples of HSCs on 400 Pa and 3 RNA samples of HSCs on 25600 Pa were sent to the University of Minnesota Genomics Center for RNA sequencing. Overall design: 2 RNA samples isolated from HSC on 400 Pa stiffness and 3 from HSCs on 25600 Pa stiffness. They were converted to Illumina sequencing libraries using Illumina’s Truseq Stranded mRNA Sample Preparation Kit. Truseq libraries were then subjected to cluster using Illumina cBot instrument and sequencing using HiSeq2500
Project description:Improved fundamental understanding of how cells interpret microenvironmental signals is integral to designing better biomaterial therapies. YAP/TAZ are key mediators of mechanosensitive signaling; however, it is not clear how they are regulated by the complex interplay of microenvironmental factors (e.g., stiffness and degradability) and culture dimensionality. Using covalently crosslinked norbornene-functionalized hyaluronic acid (HA) hydrogels with controlled stiffness (via crosslink density) and degradability (via susceptibility of crosslinks to proteolysis), we found that human mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) displayed increased spreading and YAP/TAZ nuclear localization when cultured atop stiffer hydrogels; however, the opposite trend was observed when MSCs were encapsulated within degradable hydrogels. When stiffness-matched hydrogels of reduced degradability were used, YAP/TAZ nuclear translocation was greater in cells that were able to spread, which was confirmed through pharmacological inhibition of YAP/TAZ and actin polymerization. Together, these data illustrate that YAP/TAZ signaling is responsive to hydrogel stiffness and degradability, but the outcome is dependent on the dimensionality of cell-biomaterial interactions.
Project description:INTRODUCTION: Parity-identified mammary epithelial cells (PI-MECs) are an interesting cellular subset because they survive involution and are a presumptive target for transformation by human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2)/neu in mammary tumors. Depending on the type of assay, PI-MECs have been designated lobule-restricted progenitors or multipotent stem/progenitor cells. PI-MECs were reported to be part of the basal population of mammary epithelium based on flow cytometry. We investigated the cellular identity and lineage potential of PI-MECs in intact mammary glands. METHODS: We performed a quantitative and qualitative analysis of the contribution of PI-MECs to mammary epithelial cell lineages in pregnant and involuted mammary glands by immunohistochemistry, fluorescence-activated cells sorting (FACS), and quantitative polymerase chain reaction. PI-MECs were labeled by the activation of Whey Acidic Protein (WAP)-Cre during pregnancy that results in permanent expression of yellow fluorescent protein. RESULTS: After involution, PI-MECs are present exclusively in the luminal layer of mammary ducts. During pregnancy, PI-MECs contribute to the luminal layer but not the basal layer of alveolar lobules. Strikingly, whereas all luminal estrogen receptor (ER)-negative cells in an alveolus can be derived from PI-MECs, the alveolar ER-positive cells are unlabeled and reminiscent of Notch2-traced L cells. Notably, we observed a significant population of unlabeled alveolar progenitors that resemble PI-MECs based on transcriptional and histological analysis. CONCLUSIONS: Our demonstration that PI-MECs are luminal cells underscores that not only basal cells display multi-lineage potential in transplantation assays. However, the lineage potential of PI-MECs in unperturbed mammary glands is remarkably restricted to luminal ER-negative cells of the secretory alveolar lineage. The identification of an unlabeled but functionally similar population of luminal alveolar progenitor cells raises the question of whether PI-MECs are a unique population or the result of stochastic labeling. Interestingly, even when all luminal ER-negative cells of an alveolus are PI-MEC-derived, the basal cells and hormone-sensing cells are derived from a different source, indicating that cooperative outgrowth of cells from different lineages is common in alveologenesis.
Project description:Significant progress has been achieved toward elucidating the molecular mechanisms that underlie breast cancer progression; yet, much less is known about the associated cellular biophysical traits. To this end, we use time-lapsed confocal microscopy to investigate the interplay among cell motility, three-dimensional (3D) matrix stiffness, matrix architecture, and transforming potential in a mammary epithelial cell (MEC) cancer progression series. We use a well characterized breast cancer progression model where human-derived MCF10A MECs overexpress either ErbB2, 14-3-3?, or both ErbB2 and 14-3-3?, with empty vector as a control. Cell motility assays showed that MECs overexpressing ErbB2 alone exhibited notably high migration speeds when cultured atop two-dimensional (2D) matrices, while overexpression of 14-3-3? alone most suppressed migration atop 2D matrices (as compared to non-transformed MECs). Our results also suggest that co-overexpression of the 14-3-3? and ErbB2 proteins facilitates cell migratory capacity in 3D matrices, as reflected in cell migration speed. Additionally, 3D matrices of sufficient stiffness can significantly hinder the migratory ability of partially transformed cells, but increased 3D matrix stiffness has a lesser effect on the aggressive migratory behavior exhibited by fully transformed cells that co-overexpress both ErbB2 and 14-3-3?. Finally, this study shows that for MECs possessing partial or full transforming potential, those overexpressing ErbB2 alone show the greatest sensitivity of cell migration speed to matrix architecture, while those overexpressing 14-3-3? alone exhibit the least sensitivity to matrix architecture. Given the current knowledge of breast cancer mechanobiology, these findings overall suggest that cell motility is governed by a complex interplay between matrix mechanics and transforming potential.