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Cancer Res. 2011 Feb 1;71(3):937-45. doi: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-10-1471. Epub 2010 Dec 2.

The integrin alpha(v)beta(3-5) ligand MFG-E8 is a p63/p73 target gene in triple-negative breast cancers but exhibits suppressive functions in ER(+) and erbB2(+) breast cancers.

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  • 1Cancer Research Center at Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts 02114, USA.


The progression from preinvasive lesion to invasive carcinoma is a critical step contributing to breast cancer lethality. We identified downregulation of milk fat globule-EGF factor 8 (MFG-E8) as a contributor to breast cancer progression using microarray analysis of laser capture microdissected (LCM) tissues. We first identified MFG-E8 downregulation in invasive lesions in transgenic mammary tumor models, which were confirmed in LCM-isolated human invasive ductal carcinomas compared with patient-matched normal tissues. In situ analyses of MFG-E8 expression in estrogen receptor (ER) positive cases confirmed its downregulation during breast cancer progression and small inhibitory MFG-E8 RNAs accelerated ER(+) breast cancer cell proliferation. MFG-E8 also decreased in erbB2(+) human cancers and erbB2 transgenic mice lacking MFG-E8 showed accelerated tumor formation. In contrast, MFG-E8 expression was present at high levels in triple-negative (ER(-), PgR(-), erbB2(-)) breast cancers, cell lines, and patient sera. Knockdown, chromatin immunoprecipitation, and reporter assays all showed that p63 regulates MFG-E8 expression, and MFG-E8 knockdowns sensitized triple-negative breast cancers to cisplatin treatment. Taken together, our results show that MFG-E8 is expressed in triple-negative breast cancers as a target gene of the p63 pathway, but may serve a suppressive function in ER(+) and erbB2(+) breast cancers. Its potential use as a serum biomarker that contributes to the pathogenesis of triple-negative breast cancers urges continued evaluation of its differential functions.

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