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Biochim Biophys Acta. 2014 Apr;1843(4):815-26. doi: 10.1016/j.bbamcr.2013.12.015. Epub 2013 Dec 27.

Microenvironmental stimuli affect Endothelin-1 signaling responsible for invasiveness and osteomimicry of bone metastasis from breast cancer.

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  • 1Dipartimento di Scienze Biomediche per la Salute, Molecular Pathology Laboratory, Università degli Studi di Milano, Italy.
  • 2Istituto Ortopedico Galeazzi, IRCCS, Milano, Italy.
  • 3Dipartimento di Scienze Biomediche per la Salute, Molecular Pathology Laboratory, Università degli Studi di Milano, Italy. Electronic address:


The present study was undertaken to clarify the function(s) of Endothelin-1 and its receptors ETAR and ETBR in osteolytic-bone metastasis from breast cancer, and their regulation by hepatocyte and transforming growth factors (HGF, TGF-β) and hypoxia. The aim was to evaluate the adaptability of bone metastasis to microenvironmental stimuli through Endothelin-1-mediated epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT), or the reverse process MET, and through osteomimicry possible key features for bone colonization. We compared low (MCF-7) and high (MDA-MB231) invasive-breast carcinoma cells, and 1833-bone metastatic clone, with human pair-matched primary breast-carcinomas and bone metastases. Parental MDA-MB231 and the derived 1833-clone responded oppositely to the stimuli. In 1833 cells, TGF-β and hypoxia increased Endothelin-1 release, altogether reducing invasiveness important for engraftment, while Endothelin-1 enhanced MDA-MB231 cell invasiveness. The Endothelin-1-autocrine loop contributed to the cooperation of intracellular-signaling pathways and extracellular stimuli triggering MET in 1833 cells, and EMT in MDA-MB231 cells. Only in 1833 cells, HGF negatively influenced transactivation and release of Endothelin-1, suggesting a temporal sequence of these stimuli with an initial role of HGF-triggered Wnt/β-catenin pathway in metastatization. Then, Endothelin-1/ETAR conferred MET and osteomimetic phenotypes, with Runt-related transcription factor 2 activation and metalloproteinase 9 expression, contributing to colonization and osteolysis. Findings with human pair-matched primary ductal carcinomas and bone metastases gave a translational significance to the molecular study. Endothelin-1, ETAR and ETBR correlated with the acquisition of malignant potential, because of high expression already in the in situ carcinoma. These molecular markers might be used as predictive index of aggressive behavior and invasive/metastatic phenotype.

Copyright © 2014 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


Bone metastasis; Endothelin-1 axis; Growth factors; Microenvironment; Osteomimicry

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