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Oncogene. 2011 Sep 1;30(35):3766-83. doi: 10.1038/onc.2011.89. Epub 2011 Apr 11.

Type IV collagen-initiated signals provide survival and growth cues required for liver metastasis.

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Department of Medicine, McGill University and the McGill University Health Center-Royal Victoria Hospital, Montreal Quebec, Canada.


The liver is a major site of metastasis for human malignancies, yet the factors that regulate tumor cell survival and growth in this organ remain elusive. Previously, we reported that M-27(IGF-IR) murine lung carcinoma cells with ectopic insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-I) receptor overexpression acquired a site-specific, liver-metastasizing potential. Gene expression profiling and subsequent RNA and protein analyses revealed that this was associated with major changes to the expression of extracellular matrix (ECM) protein-encoding genes including type III, IV and XVIII collagen genes, and these changes were also observed in the respective tumors in vivo. Because type IV collagen was the most prominently altered ECM protein in this model, we further analyzed its functional relevance to liver metastasis. M-27 cells stably overexpressing type IV collagen α1 and α2 chains were generated and their growth and metastatic properties investigated. We found that these cells acquired a site-selective growth advantage in the liver and this was associated with cell rescue from anoikis in a collagen IV/α2 integrin/FAK-dependent manner and increased responsiveness to IGF-I. Conversely, collagen IV or focal adhesion kinase (FAK) silencing by small-interfering RNA in highly metastatic tumor cells enhanced anoikis and decreased liver metastases formation. Moreover, analysis of human surgical specimens revealed uniformly high collagen IV expression in 65/65 hepatic metastases analyzed, regardless of tissue of origin, whereas it was variable and generally low in 50/50 primary colorectal carcinoma specimens examined. The results suggest that collagen IV-conveyed signals are essential cues for liver metastasis in diverse tumor types and identify mediators of collagen IV signaling as potential therapeutic targets in the management of hepatic metastases.

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