EMBO molecular medicine

Oxidative stress promotes myofibroblast differentiation and tumour spreading.

PMID 20535745


JunD regulates genes involved in antioxidant defence. We took advantage of the chronic oxidative stress resulting from junD deletion to examine the role of reactive oxygen species (ROS) in tumour development. In a model of mammary carcinogenesis, junD inactivation increased tumour incidence and revealed an associated reactive stroma. junD-inactivation in the stroma was sufficient to shorten tumour-free survival rate and enhance metastatic spread. ROS promoted conversion of fibroblasts into highly migrating myofibroblasts through accumulation of the hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF)-1alpha transcription factor and the CXCL12 chemokine. Accordingly, treatment with an antioxidant reduced the levels of HIF and CXCL12 and numerous myofibroblast features. CXCL12 accumulated in the stroma of HER2-human breast adenocarcinomas. Moreover, HER2 tumours exhibited a high proportion of myofibroblasts, which was significantly correlated to nodal metastases. Interestingly, this subset of tumours exhibited a significant nuclear exclusion of JunD and revealed an associated oxido-reduction signature, further demonstrating the relevance of our findings in human cancers. Collectively, our data uncover a new mechanism by which oxidative stress increases the migratory properties of stromal fibroblasts, which in turn potentiate tumour dissemination.