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Oncogene

Loss of giant obscurins from breast epithelium promotes epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition, tumorigenicity and metastasis.


PMID 25381817

Abstract

Obscurins, encoded by the single OBSCN gene, are giant cytoskeletal proteins with structural and regulatory roles. The OBSCN gene is highly mutated in different types of cancers. Loss of giant obscurins from breast epithelial cells confers them with a survival and growth advantage, following exposure to DNA-damaging agents. Here we demonstrate that the expression levels and subcellular distribution of giant obscurins are altered in human breast cancer biopsies compared with matched normal samples. Stable clones of non-tumorigenic MCF10A cells lacking giant obscurins fail to form adhesion junctions, undergo epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition and generate >100-μm mammospheres bearing markers of cancer-initiating cells. Obscurin-knockdown MCF10A cells display markedly increased motility as a sheet in 2-dimensional (2D) substrata and individually in confined spaces and invasion in 3D matrices. In line with these observations, actin filaments redistribute to extending filopodia where they exhibit increased dynamics. MCF10A cells that stably express the K-Ras oncogene and obscurin short hairpin RNA (shRNA), but not scramble control shRNA, exhibit increased primary tumor formation and lung colonization after subcutaneous and tail vein injections, respectively. Collectively, our findings reveal that loss of giant obscurins from breast epithelium results in disruption of the cell-cell contacts and acquisition of a mesenchymal phenotype that leads to enhanced tumorigenesis, migration and invasiveness in vitro and in vivo.