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Mol Cell Biol. 2012 Aug;32(15):2979-91. doi: 10.1128/MCB.00299-12. Epub 2012 May 29.

Claudin-2 promotes breast cancer liver metastasis by facilitating tumor cell interactions with hepatocytes.

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Goodman Cancer Research Centre, McGill University, Montréal, Québec, Canada.


We previously identified claudin-2 as a functional mediator of breast cancer liver metastasis. We now confirm that claudin-2 levels are elevated in liver metastases, but not in skin metastases, compared to levels in their matched primary tumors in patients with breast cancer. Moreover, claudin-2 is specifically expressed in liver-metastatic breast cancer cells compared to populations derived from bone or lung metastases. The increased liver tropism exhibited by claudin-2-expressing breast cancer cells requires claudin-2-mediated interactions between breast cancer cells and primary hepatocytes. Furthermore, the reduction of the claudin-2 expression level, either in cancer cells or in primary hepatocytes, diminishes these heterotypic cell-cell interactions. Finally, we demonstrate that the first claudin-2 extracellular loop is essential for mediating tumor cell-hepatocyte interactions and the ability of breast cancer cells to form liver metastases in vivo. Thus, during breast cancer liver metastasis, claudin-2 shifts from acting within tight-junctional complexes to functioning as an adhesion molecule between breast cancer cells and hepatocytes.

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