Role of the focal adhesion protein kindlin-1 in breast cancer growth and lung metastasis

Soraya Sin, Florian Bonin, Valérie Petit, Didier Meseure, François Lallemand, Ivan Bièche, Akeila Bellahcène, Vincent Castronovo, Olivier de Wever, Christian Gespach, Rosette Lidereau, Keltouma Driouch
Journal of the National Cancer Institute 2011 September 7, 103 (17): 1323-37

BACKGROUND: Fermitin family member 1 (FERMT1, Kindlin-1) is an epithelial-specific regulator of integrin functions and is associated with Kindler syndrome, a genetic disorder characterized by skin blistering, atrophy, and photosensitivity. However, the possible role of kindlin-1 in cancer remains unknown.

METHODS: Kindlin-1 expression was quantified in several human cancers using quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction and published microarray datasets. The association between kindlin-1 expression and patient metastasis-free survival (N = 516) was assessed with Kaplan-Meier analyses. Effects of ectopic expression or silencing of kindlin-1 on cell signaling, migration, and invasion were assessed in human breast cancer cell lines using western blotting, immunofluorescence, wound healing assays, and invasion on Matrigel or type I collagen substrates. Breast tumor growth and lung metastasis were evaluated in 12-week-old female BALB/c mice (10 controls and six Kindlin-1-knockdown mice). All statistical tests were two-sided.

RESULTS: Kindlin-1 expression was consistently higher in tumors than in normal tissues in various cancer types metastasizing to the lungs, including colon and bladder cancer. Kindlin-1 expression was associated with metastasis-free survival in both breast and lung adenocarcinoma (breast cancer: hazard ratio of lung metastasis = 2.55, 95% confidence intervals [CI] = 1.39 to 4.69, P = .001; lung cancer: hazard ratio of metastasis = 1.96, 95% CI = 1.25 to 3.07, P = .001). Overexpression of kindlin-1 induced changes indicating epithelial-mesenchymal transition and transforming growth factor beta (TGFβ) signaling, constitutive activation of cell motility, and invasion (number of migrating cells, Kindlin-1 cells vs control, mean = 164.66 vs. 19.00, difference = 145.6, 95% CI = 79.1 to 212.2, P = .004; invasion rate, Kindlin-1-cells vs control = 9.65% vs. 1.92%, difference = 7.73%, 95% CI = 4.75 to 10.70, P < .001). Finally, Kindlin-1 depletion in an orthotopic mouse model statistically significantly inhibited breast tumor growth (P < .001) and lung metastasis (P = .003).

CONCLUSION: These results suggest a role for kindlin-1 in breast cancer lung metastasis and lung tumorigenesis and advance our understanding of kindlin-1 as a regulator of TGFβ signaling, offering new avenues for therapeutic intervention against cancer progression.

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