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Am J Physiol Cell Physiol. 2012 Apr 15;302(8):C1243-56. doi: 10.1152/ajpcell.00011.2012. Epub 2012 Jan 25.

Breast cancer cell-derived matrix supports vascular morphogenesis.

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Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Johns Hopkins Physical Sciences-Oncology Center, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD 21218, USA.


The extracellular matrix (ECM), important for maintaining tissue homeostasis, is abnormally expressed in mammary tumors and additionally plays a crucial role in angiogenesis. We hypothesize that breast cancer cells (BCCs) deposit ECM that supports unique patterns of vascular morphogenesis of endothelial cells (ECs). Evaluation of ECM expression revealed that a nontumorigenic cell line (MCF10A), a tumorigenic cell line (MCF7), and a metastatic cell line (MDA-MB-231) express collagens I and IV, fibronectin, and laminin, with tenascin-C limited to MCF10A and MCF7. The amount of ECM deposited by BCCs was found to be higher in MCF10A compared with MCF7 and MDA231, with all ECM differing in their gross structure but similar in mean fiber diameter. Nonetheless, deposition of ECM from BCC lines was overall difficult to detect and insufficient to support capillary-like structure (CLS) formation of ECs. Therefore, a coculture approach was undertaken in which individual BCC lines were cocultured with fibroblasts. Variation in abundance of deposited ECM, deposition of ECM proteins, such as absent collagen I deposition from MDA231-fibroblast cocultures, and fibril organization was found. Deposited ECM from fibroblasts and each coculture supported rapid CLS formation of ECs. Evaluation of capillary properties revealed that CLS grown on ECM deposited from MDA231-fibroblast cocultures possessed significantly larger lumen diameters, occupied the greatest percentage of area, expressed the highest levels of von Willebrand factor, and expressed the greatest amount of E-selectin, which was upregulated independent of exposure to TNF-α. To our knowledge, this is the first study to report tumor cell ECM-mediated differences in vascular capillary features, and thus offers the framework for future investigations interrogating the role of the tumor ECM in supporting vascular morphogenesis.

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