Molecular cancer research : MCR

ADAM12 Is a Novel Regulator of Tumor Angiogenesis via STAT3 Signaling.

PMID 28765266


ADAM12, (ADisintegrin and metalloproteinase domain-containing protein 12), is upregulated in epithelial cancers and contributes to increased tumor proliferation, metastasis, and endocrine resistance. However, its role in tumor angiogenesis is unknown. Here, we report that ADAM12 is upregulated in the vessels of aggressive breast tumors and exerts key regulatory functions. ADAM12 significantly increases bFGF-mediated angiogenesis in vivo and ADAM12 levels are upregulated in tumors that have undergone a switch to the angiogenic phenotype. Importantly, ADAM12-overexpressing breast tumors display a higher microvessel density (MVD). Our goal was to identify the mechanisms by which tumor-associated ADAM12 promotes angiogenesis. ADAM12 expression in breast tumor cells correlated with a significant upregulation of proangiogenic factors such as VEGF and MMP-9 and downregulation of antiangiogenic factors such as Thrombospondin-1 (THBS1/TSP1) and Tissue Inhibitor of Metalloproteinases-2 (TIMP-2). Co-culture with ADAM12-expressing tumor cells promoted endothelial cell (EC) recruitment and capillary tube formation. Conversely, downregulation of endogenous ADAM12 in breast cancer cell lines resulted in reduction of pro-angiogenic factors and EC recruitment. These ADAM12-mediated effects are driven by the activation of EGFR, STAT3 and Akt signaling. Blockade of EGFR/STAT3 or silencing of ADAM12 reversed the proangiogenic tumor phenotype, significantly downregulated pro-angiogenic mitogens and reduced EC recruitment. In human breast cancer tissues, ADAM12 expression was significantly positively correlated with pro-angiogenic factors including VEGF and MMP-9 but negatively associated with TSP1.Implications: These novel findings suggest that ADAM12 regulates EC function and facilitates a proangiogenic microenvironment in a STAT3-dependent manner. A combined approach of targeting ADAM12 and STAT3 signaling in breast cancer may represent a promising strategy to inhibit tumor neovascularization. Mol Cancer Res; 15(11); 1608-22. ©2017 AACR.