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Cancer Res. 2008 Sep 1;68(17):7219-27. doi: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-08-0419.

Protease-activated receptor (PAR) 2, but not PAR1, signaling promotes the development of mammary adenocarcinoma in polyoma middle T mice.

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Department of Immunology, The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, CA 92037, USA.


The G protein-coupled protease-activated receptors (PAR) are key signaling components for proteases in vascular biology and tumor progression. To address the contributions of PAR1 and PAR2 to breast cancer development, we established cohorts of mouse mammary tumor virus-polyoma middle T (PyMT) PAR1(-/-) and PAR2(-/-) mice, considering that the PyMT model recapitulates aspects of human disease. Appearance of palpable tumors, tumor expansion, and metastasis was indistinguishable between wild-type and PAR1(-/-) mice. PAR1(-/-) breast cancer cells were no longer responsive to thrombin in vitro, excluding compensatory up-regulation of alternative thrombin receptors and indicating that thrombin-PAR1 signaling is dispensable in breast tumor microenvironments. In contrast, palpable tumors and multifocal disease developed slower in PAR2(-/-) mice, and as a consequence of delayed tumor onset, metastasis was reduced. Analysis of early tumors showed persistence of adenomas with delayed appearance of vascularized adenocarcinomas in PAR2(-/-) mice. Furthermore, CXCL1 production by early PAR2(-/-) tumors was reduced. These results are consistent with previous xenograft data that implicated breast cancer PAR2 signaling in the induction of proangiogenic growth factors and chemokines. This study establishes that protease signaling contributes to mammary tumor development and that PAR2, rather than the thrombin receptor PAR1, plays a crucial role in the angiogenic switch.

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