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Mol Biol Cell. 2013 Nov;24(21):3449-59. doi: 10.1091/mbc.E12-10-0776. Epub 2013 Sep 4.

Targeted inactivation of β1 integrin induces β3 integrin switching, which drives breast cancer metastasis by TGF-β.

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Department of Pathology, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH 44106 Department of Anatomy and Physiology, College of Veterinary Medicine, Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS 66506 Case Comprehensive Cancer Center, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH 44106.

Erratum in

  • Mol Biol Cell. 2014 Feb;25(4):548.


Mammary tumorigenesis and epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) programs cooperate in converting transforming growth factor-β (TGF-β) from a suppressor to a promoter of breast cancer metastasis. Although previous reports associated β1 and β3 integrins with TGF-β stimulation of EMT and metastasis, the functional interplay and plasticity exhibited by these adhesion molecules in shaping the oncogenic activities of TGF-β remain unknown. We demonstrate that inactivation of β1 integrin impairs TGF-β from stimulating the motility of normal and malignant mammary epithelial cells (MECs) and elicits robust compensatory expression of β3 integrin solely in malignant MECs, but not in their normal counterparts. Compensatory β3 integrin expression also 1) enhances the growth of malignant MECs in rigid and compliant three-dimensional organotypic cultures and 2) restores the induction of the EMT phenotypes by TGF-β. Of importance, compensatory expression of β3 integrin rescues the growth and pulmonary metastasis of β1 integrin-deficient 4T1 tumors in mice, a process that is prevented by genetic depletion or functional inactivation of β3 integrin. Collectively our findings demonstrate that inactivation of β1 integrin elicits metastatic progression via a β3 integrin-specific mechanism, indicating that dual β1 and β3 integrin targeting is necessary to alleviate metastatic disease in breast cancer patients.

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