Simultaneous Multi-Organ Metastases from Chemo-Resistant Triple-Negative Breast Cancer Are Prevented by Interfering with WNT-Signaling

Iram Fatima, Ikbale El-Ayachi, Hilaire C Playa, Jackelyn A Alva-Ornelas, Aysha B Khalid, William L Kuenzinger, Peter Wend, Jackelyn C Pence, Lauren Brakefield, Raisa I Krutilina, Daniel L Johnson, Ruth M O'Regan, Victoria Seewaldt, Tiffany N Seagroves, Susan A Krum, Gustavo A Miranda-Carboni
Cancers 2019 December 17, 11 (12)
Triple-negative breast cancers (TNBCs), which lack specific targeted therapy options, evolve into highly chemo-resistant tumors that metastasize to multiple organs simultaneously. We have previously shown that TNBCs maintain an activated WNT10B-driven network that drives metastasis. Pharmacologic inhibition by ICG-001 decreases β-catenin-mediated proliferation of multiple TNBC cell lines and TNBC patient-derived xenograft (PDX)-derived cell lines. In vitro, ICG-001 was effective in combination with the conventional cytotoxic chemotherapeutics, cisplatin and doxorubicin, to decrease the proliferation of MDA-MB-231 cells. In contrast, in TNBC PDX-derived cells doxorubicin plus ICG-001 was synergistic, while pairing with cisplatin was not as effective. Mechanistically, cytotoxicity induced by doxorubicin, but not cisplatin, with ICG-001 was associated with increased cleavage of PARP-1 in the PDX cells only. In vivo, MDA-MB-231 and TNBC PDX orthotopic primary tumors initiated de novo simultaneous multi-organ metastases, including bone metastases. WNT monotherapy blocked multi-organ metastases as measured by luciferase imaging and histology. The loss of expression of the WNT10B/β-catenin direct targets HMGA2, EZH2, AXIN2, MYC, PCNA, CCND1, transcriptionally active β-catenin, SNAIL and vimentin both in vitro and in vivo in the primary tumors mechanistically explains loss of multi-organ metastases. WNT monotherapy induced VEGFA expression in both tumor model systems, whereas increased CD31 was observed only in the MDA-MB-231 tumors. Moreover, WNT-inhibition sensitized the anticancer response of the TNBC PDX model to doxorubicin, preventing simultaneous metastases to the liver and ovaries, as well as to bone. Our data demonstrate that WNT-inhibition sensitizes TNBC to anthracyclines and treats multi-organ metastases of TNBC.

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