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PLoS One. 2012;7(10):e47901. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0047901. Epub 2012 Oct 24.

Osteopontin-enhanced hepatic metastasis of colorectal cancer cells.

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  • 1Department of Medical Oncology, Second Affiliated Hospital, Medical School of Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, China.


Liver metastasis is a major cause of mortality from colorectal cancer (CRC). However, mechanisms underlying this process are largely unknown. Osteopontin (OPN) is a secreted phosphorylated glycoprotein that is involved in tumor migration and metastasis. The role of OPN in cancer is currently unclear. In this study, OPN mRNA was examined in tissues from CRC, adjacent normal mucosa, and liver metastatic lesions using quantitative real-time PCR analysis. The protein expression of OPN and its receptors (integrin αv and CD44 v6) was detected by using an immunohistochemical (IHC) method. The role of OPN in liver metastasis was studied in established colon cancer Colo-205 and SW-480 cell lines transfected with sense- or antisense-OPN eukaryotic expression plasmids by flow cytometry and cell adhesion assay. Fluorescence redistribution after photobleaching (FRAP) was used to study gap functional intercellular communication (GJIC) among OPN-transfected cells. It was found that OPN was highly expressed in metastatic hepatic lesions from CRC compared to primary CRC tissue and adjacent normal mucosa. The expression of OPN mRNA in tumor tissues was significantly related with the CRC stages. OPN expression was also detected in normal hepatocytes surrounding CRC metastatic lesions. Two known receptors of OPN, integrin αv and CD44v6 proteins, were strongly expressed in hepatocytes from normal liver. CRC cells with forced OPN expression exhibited increased heterotypic adhesion with endothelial cells and weakened intercellular communication. OPN plays a significant role in CRC metastasis to liver through interaction with its receptors in hepatocytes, decreased homotypic adhesion, and enhanced heterotypic adhesion.

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