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Oncogene. 2012 Jun 14;31(24):2919-30. doi: 10.1038/onc.2011.473. Epub 2011 Oct 24.

Bone morphogenetic protein modulator BMPER is highly expressed in malignant tumors and controls invasive cell behavior.

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  • 1Department Medicine III, University of Freiburg, Freiburg, Germany.


Bone morphogenetic proteins (BMPs) are growth factors that exert important functions in cell proliferation, migration and differentiation. Till date, multiple human tumors have been reported to display a dysregulation of several members of the BMP pathway that is associated with enhanced malignant tumor growth and metastasis. BMPER (BMP endothelial cell precursor-derived regulator) is a direct BMP modulator that is necessary for BMPs to exert their full-range signaling activity. Moreover, BMPER is expressed by endothelial cells and their progenitors, and has pro-angiogenic features in these cells. Here, we describe the expression of BMPER in human specimens of lung, colon and cervix carcinomas and cell lines derived from such carcinomas. In contrast to healthy tissues, BMPER is highly expressed upon malignant deterioration. Functionally, loss of BMPER in the lung tumor cell line A549 impairs proliferation, migration, invasion as well as tumor cell-induced endothelial cell sprout formation. In contrast, stimulation of A549 cells with exogenous BMPER had no further effect. We found that the BMPER effect may be transduced by regulation of the BMP target transcription factor inhibitor of DNA binding 1 (Id1) and matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) 9 and 2. These facilitators of cell migration are downregulated when BMPER is absent. To prove the relevance of our in vitro results in vivo, we generated Lewis lung carcinoma cells with impaired BMPER expression and implanted them into the lungs of C57BL/6 mice. In this model, the absence of BMPER resulted in severely reduced tumor growth and tumor angiogenesis. Taken together, these data unequivocally demonstrate that the BMP modulator BMPER is highly expressed in malignant tumors and tumor growth is dependent on the presence of BMPER.

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