Upregulated WAVE3 expression is essential for TGF-β-mediated EMT and metastasis of triple-negative breast cancer cells

Molly A Taylor, Gangarao Davuluri, Jenny G Parvani, Barbara J Schiemann, Michael K Wendt, Edward F Plow, William P Schiemann, Khalid Sossey-Alaoui
Breast Cancer Research and Treatment 2013, 142 (2): 341-53
Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in women in the United States. Metastasis accounts for the death of ~90 % of these patients, yet the mechanisms underlying this event remain poorly defined. WAVE3 belongs to the WASP/WAVE family of actin-binding proteins that play essential roles in regulating cell morphology, actin polymerization, cytoskeleton remodeling, cell motility, and invasion. Accordingly, we demonstrated previously that WAVE3 promotes the acquisition of invasive and metastatic phenotypes by human breast cancers. Herein, we show that transforming growth factor-β (TGF-β) selectively and robustly induced the expression of WAVE3 in metastatic breast cancer cells, but not in their nonmetastatic counterparts. Moreover, the induction of WAVE3 expression in human and mouse triple-negative breast cancer cells (TNBCs) by TGF-β likely reflects its coupling to microRNA expression via a Smad2- and β3 integrin-dependent mechanism. We further demonstrate the requirement for WAVE3 expression in mediating the initiation of epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) programs stimulated by TGF-β. Indeed, stable depletion of WAVE3 expression in human TNBC cells prevented TGF-β from inducing EMT programs and from stimulating the proliferation, migration, and the formation of lamellipodia in metastatic TNBC cells. Lastly, we observed WAVE3 deficiency to abrogate the outgrowth of TNBC cell organoids in 3-dimensional organotypic cultures as well as to decrease the growth and metastasis of 4T1 tumors produced in syngeneic Balb/C mice. Indeed, WAVE3 deficiency significantly reduced the presence of sarcomatoid morphologies indicative of EMT phenotypes in pulmonary TNBC tumors as compared to those detected in their parental counterparts. Collectively, these findings indicate the necessity for WAVE3 expression and activity during EMT programs stimulated by TGF-β; they also suggest that measures capable of inactivating WAVE3 may play a role in alleviating metastasis stimulated by TGF-β.

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