Understanding the mechanism of metastatic dissemination is crucial for the rational design of novel therapeutics. The secreted protein acidic and rich in cysteine (SPARC) is a matricellular glycoprotein which has been extensively associated with human breast cancer aggressiveness although the underlying mechanisms are still unclear. Here, shRNA-mediated SPARC knockdown greatly reduced primary tumor growth and completely abolished lung colonization of murine 4T1 and LM3 breast malignant cells implanted in syngeneic BALB/c mice. A comprehensive study including global transcriptomic analysis followed by biological validations confirmed that SPARC induces primary tumor growth by enhancing cell cycle and by promoting a COX-2–mediated expansion of myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSC). The role of SPARC in metastasis involved a COX-2–independent enhancement of cell disengagement from the primary tumor and adherence to the lungs that fostered metastasis implantation. Interestingly, SPARC-driven gene expression signatures obtained from these murine models predicted the clinical outcome of patients with HER2-enriched breast cancer subtypes. In total, the results reveal that SPARC and its downstream effectors are attractive targets for antimetastatic therapies in breast cancer.
Implications: These findings shed light on the prometastatic role of SPARC, a key protein expressed by breast cancer cells and surrounding stroma, with important consequences for disease outcome. Mol Cancer Res; 15(3); 304–16. ©2016 AACR.
Note: Supplementary data for this article are available at Molecular Cancer Research Online (http://mcr.aacrjournals.org/).
A.S. Llera and O.L. Podhajcer are co-senior authors of this article.
- Received July 20, 2016.
- Revision received November 25, 2016.
- Accepted December 7, 2016.
- ©2016 American Association for Cancer Research.