Hyaluronan synthase HAS2 promotes tumor progression in bone by stimulating the interaction of breast cancer stem-like cells with macrophages and stromal cells

Hiroshi Okuda, Aya Kobayashi, Bo Xia, Misako Watabe, Sudha K Pai, Shigeru Hirota, Fei Xing, Wen Liu, Puspa R Pandey, Koji Fukuda, Vishnu Modur, Arnab Ghosh, Andrew Wilber, Kounosuke Watabe
Cancer Research 2012 January 15, 72 (2): 537-47
The molecular mechanisms that operate within the organ microenvironment to support metastatic progression remain unclear. Here, we report that upregulation of hyaluronan synthase 2 (HAS2) occurs in highly metastatic breast cancer stem-like cells (CSC) defined by CD44(+)/CD24(-)/ESA(+) phenotype, where it plays a critical role in the generation of a prometastatic microenvironment in breast cancer. HAS2 was critical for the interaction of CSCs with tumor-associated macrophages (TAM), leading to enhanced secretion of platelet-derived growth factor-BB from TAMs, which then activated stromal cells and enhanced CSC self-renewal. Loss of HAS2 in CSCs or treatment with 4-methylumbelliferone, an inhibitor of HAS, which blocks hyaluronan production, drastically reduced the incidence and growth of metastatic lesions in vitro or in vivo, respectively. Taken together, our findings show a critical role of HAS2 in the development of a prometastatic microenvironment and suggest that HAS2 inhibitors can act as antimetastatic agents that disrupt a paracrine growth factor loop within this microenvironment.

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