British journal of cancer

MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cells overexpressing single VEGF isoforms display distinct colonisation characteristics.

PMID 26196186


Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) is a multifunctional cytokine that has important roles in angiogenesis. Our knowledge of the significance of VEGF isoforms in human cancer remains incomplete. Bioluminescence imaging and transcriptomic analysis were used to study the colonisation capacity of the human breast cancer cells MDA-MB-231 controlling or overexpressing the VEGF165 or VEGF189 isoform (named cV-B, V165-B and V189-B, respectively) in nude mice. When injected into the bloodstream, V189-B cells induced less metastasis in the lungs and bone than V165-B and cV-B control cells, consistent with longer survival of these mice and delay in tumour uptake in the mice injected with a V189-B clone. Histological analysis confirmed that there were less αSMA-positive cells in the lungs of the mice injected with V189-B. In vitro V189-B cells decreased both cell invasion and survival. Using transcriptomic analysis, we identified a subset of 18 genes expressed differentially between V189 and V165 cell lines and in 120 human breast tumours. V165 was associated with poor prognosis, whereas V189 was not, suggesting a complex regulation by VEGF isoforms. Our results showed a negative correlation between the expression pattern of VEGF189 and the levels of expression of seven genes that influence metastasis. Our findings provide the first evidence that VEGF isoforms have different effects on breast cancer cell line colonisation in vivo.