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Cancer Res. 2010 Oct 15;70(20):7851-61. doi: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-10-1223. Epub 2010 Sep 28.

Fibroblast growth factor receptor 4 regulates tumor invasion by coupling fibroblast growth factor signaling to extracellular matrix degradation.

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Molecular Cancer Biology Research Program, Departments of Pathology and Virology, Haartman Institute, Helsinki, Finland.


Aberrant expression and polymorphism of fibroblast growth factor receptor 4 (FGFR4) has been linked to tumor progression and anticancer drug resistance. We describe here a novel mechanism of tumor progression by matrix degradation involving epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition in response to membrane-type 1 matrix metalloproteinase (MT1-MMP, MMP-14) induction at the edge of tumors expressing the FGFR4-R388 risk variant. Both FGFR4 and MT1-MMP were upregulated in tissue biopsies from several human cancer types including breast adenocarcinomas, where they were partially coexpressed at the tumor/stroma border and tumor invasion front. The strongest overall coexpression was found in prostate carcinoma. Studies with cultured prostate carcinoma cell lines showed that the FGFR4-R388 variant, which has previously been associated with poor cancer prognosis, increased MT1-MMP-dependent collagen invasion. In this experimental model, knockdown of FGFR4-R388 or MT1-MMP by RNA interference blocked tumor cell invasion and growth in collagen. This was coupled with impaired phosphorylation of FGFR substrate 2 and Src, upregulation of E-cadherin, and suppression of cadherin-11 and N-cadherin. These in vitro results were substantiated by reduced MT1-MMP content and in vivo growth of prostate carcinoma cells after the FGFR4-R388 gene silencing. In contrast, knockdown of the alternative FGFR4-G388 allele enhanced MT1-MMP and invasive tumor cell growth in vivo and within three-dimensional collagen. These results will help to explain the reported association of the FGFR4-R388 variant with the progression and poor prognosis of certain types of tumors.

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