Despite advances in detection and treatment for breast cancer (BC), recurrence and death rates remain unacceptably high. Therefore, more convenient diagnostic and prognostic methods still required to optimize treatments among the patients. Here, we report the clinical significance of the serum cathepsin E (CatE) activity as a novel prognostic marker for BC. Correlation analysis between the serum levels of CatE expression and clinicopathological parameters revealed that the activity levels, but not the protein levels, were negatively associated with the stages and progression of BC. Univariate and multivariate analyses demonstrated that the serum CatE activity was significantly correlated with favorable prognostic outcomes of the patients. The functional link of CatE expression to BC progression was further corroborated by in vivo and in vitro studies with mice exhibiting different levels of CatE expression. Multiparous CatE-/- mice spontaneously developed mammary tumors concomitant with morphological transformation and altered growth characteristics of the mammary glands. These alterations were associated in part with the induction of epithelial-mesenchymal transition and the activation of β-catenin-dependent pathway in mammary cells. Loss of CatE strongly induced the translocation and accumulation of Wnt5a in the nuclei, thereby leading to the aberrant trafficking, maturation and secretion of Wnt5a and the impaired signaling. The interaction of CatE and Wnt5a was verified by proximity ligation assay and by knockdown or restoration of CatE expression in the mammary cells. Consequently, our datademonstrate that CatE contributes to normal growth and developmentof mammary glands through proper trafficking andsecretion of Wnt5a.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research