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Am J Pathol. 2011 Jan;178(1):325-35. doi: 10.1016/j.ajpath.2010.11.039. Epub 2010 Dec 23.

Syndecan-1 in breast cancer stroma fibroblasts regulates extracellular matrix fiber organization and carcinoma cell motility.

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Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, Wisconsin 53705-2275, USA.


Stromal fibroblasts of breast carcinomas frequently express the cell surface proteoglycan syndecan-1 (Sdc1). In human breast carcinoma samples, stromal Sdc1 expression correlates with an organized, parallel, extracellular matrix (ECM) fiber architecture. To examine a possible link between stromal Sdc1 and the fiber architecture, we generated bioactive cell-free three-dimensional ECMs from cultures of Sdc1-positive and Sdc1-negative murine and human mammary fibroblasts (termed ECM-Sdc1 and ECM-mock, respectively). Indeed, ECM-Sdc1 showed a parallel fiber architecture that contrasted markedly with the random fiber arrangement of ECM-mock. When breast carcinoma cells were seeded into the fibroblast-free ECMs, ECM-Sdc1, but not ECM-mock, promoted their attachment, invasion, and directional movement. We further evaluated the contribution of the structural/compositional modifications in ECM-Sdc1 on carcinoma cell behavior. By microcontact printing of culture surfaces, we forced the Sdc1-negative fibroblasts to produce ECM with parallel fiber organization, mimicking the architecture observed in ECM-Sdc1. We found that the fiber topography governs carcinoma cell migration directionality. Conversely, an elevated fibronectin level in ECM-Sdc1 was responsible for the enhanced attachment of the breast carcinoma cells. These observations suggest that Sdc1 expression in breast carcinoma stromal fibroblasts promotes the assembly of an architecturally abnormal ECM that is permissive to breast carcinoma directional migration and invasion.

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