Metastatic breast cancer is the leading cause of cancer-associated death in women. The progression of this fatal disease is associated with inflammatory responses that promote cancer cell growth and dissemination, eventually leading to a reduction of overall survival. However, the mechanism(s)of the inflammation-boosted cancer progression remains unclear. In this study, we found for the first time that an extracellular cytokine, S100A8/A9, accelerates breast cancer growth and metastasis upon binding to a cell surface receptor, melanoma cell adhesion molecule (MCAM). Our molecular analyses revealed an important role of ETS translocation variant 4 (ETV4), which is significantly activated in the region downstream of MCAM upon S100A8/A9 stimulation, in breast cancer progression in vitro as well as in vivo. The MCAM-mediated activation of ETV4 induced a mobile phenotype called epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT)in cells, since we found that ETV4 transcriptionally upregulates ZEB1, a strong EMT inducer, at a very high level. In contrast, downregulation of either MCAM or ETV4 repressed EMT, resulting in greatly weakened tumor growth and lung metastasis. Overall, our results revealed that ETV4 is a novel transcription factor regulated by the S100A8/A9-MCAM axis, which leads to EMT through ZEB1 and thereby to metastasis in breast cancer cells. Thus, therapeutic strategies based on our findings might improve patient outcomes.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research