British journal of cancer

Wnt-β-catenin-Tcf-4 signalling-modulated invasiveness is dependent on osteopontin expression in breast cancer.

PMID 21772333


We have previously demonstrated that Tcf-4 regulates osteopontin (OPN) in rat breast epithelial cells, Rama37. In this report, we have examined the importance of this regulation in human breast cancer. The regulatory roles of Tcf-4 on cell invasion and OPN expression were investigated. The mRNA expression of Tcf-4 and OPN, and survival of breast cancer patients were correlated. Tcf-4 enhanced cell invasion in both MCF10AT and MDA MB 231 breast cancer cells by transcriptionally activating OPN expression. Osteopontin was activated by Wnt signalling in MDA MB 231 cells. Paradoxical results on Tcf-4-regulated OPN expression in MCF10AT (activation) and Rama37 (repression) cells were shown to be a result of differential Wnt signalling competency in MCF10AT and Rama37 cells. High levels of OPN and Tcf-4 mRNA expression were significantly associated with survival in breast cancer patients. Most importantly, Tcf-4-positive patients had a poorer prognosis when OPN was overexpressed, while OPN-negative patients had a better prognosis when Tcf-4 was overexpressed. Our results suggest that Tcf-4 can act as a repressor or activator of breast cancer progression by regulating OPN expression in a Wnt-dependent manner and that Tcf-4 and OPN together may be a novel prognostic indicator for breast cancer progression.