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Sci Rep. 2019 Jun 10;9(1):8418. doi: 10.1038/s41598-019-44828-6.

ELK3 expressed in lymphatic endothelial cells promotes breast cancer progression and metastasis through exosomal miRNAs.

Author information

1
Department of Biomedical Science, College of Life Science, CHA University, Seongnam-si, Republic of Korea.
2
Department of Biomedical Science, College of Life Science, CHA University, Seongnam-si, Republic of Korea. kspark@cha.ac.kr.

Abstract

Tumor-associated lymphatic vessels (LV) serve as a route of cancer dissemination through the prometastatic crosstalk between lymphatic endothelial cells (LECs) lining the LVs and cancer cells. Compared to blood endothelial cell-derived angiocrine factors, however, LEC-secreted factors in the tumor microenvironment and their roles in tumor metastasis are poorly understood. Here, we report that ELK3 expressed in LECs contributes to the dissemination of cancer cells during tumor growth by providing oncogenic miRNAs to tumor cells through exosomes. We found that conditioned medium from ELK3-suppressed LECs (LCM) lost its ability to promote the migration and invasion of breast cancer cells such as MDA-MB-231, Hs578T and BT20 in vitro. Suppression of ELK3 in LECs diminished the ability of LECs to promote tumor growth and metastasis of MDA-MB-231 in vivo. Exosomes derived from LECs significantly increased the migration and invasion of MDA-MB-231 in vitro, but ELK3 suppression significantly diminished the pro-oncogenic activity of exosomes from LECs. Based on the miRNA expression profiles of LECs and functional analysis, we identified miR-503-3p, miR-4269 and miR-30e-3p as downstream targets of ELK3 in LECs, which cause the above phenotype of cancer cells. These findings strongly suggest that ELK3 expressed in LECs is a major regulator that controls the communication between the tumor microenvironment and tumors to support cancer metastasis.

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