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PLoS One. 2013 Aug 29;8(8):e72962. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0072962. eCollection 2013.

Periostin contributes to the acquisition of multipotent stem cell-like properties in human mammary epithelial cells and breast cancer cells.

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State Key Laboratory of Cellular Stress Biology, School of Life Sciences, Xiamen University, Xiamen, China.


Periostin (POSTN), a recently characterised matricellular protein, is frequently dysregulated in various malignant cancers and promotes tumor metastatic growth. POSTN plays a critical role in the crosstalk between murine breast cancer stem cells (CSCs) and their niche to permit metastatic colonization. However, whether pro-metastatic capability of POSTN is associated with multipotent potentials of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) has not been documented. Here we demonstrate that POSTN promotes a stem cell-like trait and a mesenchymal phenotype in human mammary epithelial cells and breast cancer cells. Interestingly, ectopic overexpression of POSTN or recombinant POSTN treatment can induce human mammary epithelial cells and breast cancer cells differentiation into multiple cell lineages that recapitulate part of the multilineage differentiation potentials of MSCs. Moreover, POSTN is highly expressed in bone marrow-derived MSCs and their derived adipocytes, chondrocytes, and osteoblasts in vitro. Furthermore, POSTN promotes the growth of xenograft tumors in vivo. POSTN-overexpressing human mammary epithelial cells enhance breast tumor growth and metastasis. These data thus provide evidence of a new role for POSTN in mammary epithelial neoplasia and metastasis, suggesting that epithelial cancer cells might acquire CSC-like traits and a mesenchymal phenotype, as well as the multipotent potentials of MSCs to promote tumorigenesis and metastasis. Therefore, targeting POSTN and other extracellular matrix components of tumor microenvironment may help to develop new therapeutical strategies to inhibit tumor metastasis.

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