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Inhibition of interferon-signalling halts cancer-associated fibroblast-dependent protection of breast cancer cells from chemotherapy.



Triple negative breast cancers (TNBC) have poor prognoses despite aggressive treatment with cytotoxic chemotherapy. Cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs) are prominent in tumour stroma. Our hypothesis was that CAFs modulate chemotherapy sensitivity.


TNBC cells and breast fibroblasts were cultured; survival after chemotherapeutics was assessed using luciferase or clonogenic assays. Signalling was investigated using transcriptomics, reporters, recombinant proteins and blocking antibodies. Clinical relevance was investigated using immunohistochemistry.


Breast CAFs dose-dependently protected TNBC cell lines MDA-MB-231 and MDA-MB-157, but not MDA-MB-468s, from chemotherapy. CAF-induced protection was associated with interferon (IFN) activation. CAFs were induced to express IFNβ1 by chemotherapy and TNBC co-culture, leading to paracrine activation in cancer cells. Recombinant IFNs were sufficient to protect MDA-MB-231 and MDA-MB-157 but not MDA-MB-468 cells. In TNBC patients, IFNβ1 expression in CAFs correlated with cancer cell expression of MX1, a marker of activated IFN signalling. High expression of IFNβ1 (CAFs) or MX1 (tumour cells) correlated with reduced survival after chemotherapy, especially in claudin-low tumours (which MDA-MB-231 and MDA-MB-157 cells represent). Antibodies that block IFN receptors reduced CAF-dependent chemoprotection.


CAF-induced activation of IFN signalling in claudin-low TNBCs results in chemoresistance. Inhibition of this pathway represents a novel method to improve breast cancer outcomes.

PROVIDER: S-EPMC7960738 | BioStudies |

REPOSITORIES: biostudies

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