All-trans-retinoic Acid Modulates the Plasticity and Inhibits the Motility of Breast Cancer Cells: ROLE OF NOTCH1 AND TRANSFORMING GROWTH FACTOR (TGFβ)

Published on Monday, 31 August 2015


All-trans-retinoic acid (ATRA) is a natural compound proposed for the treatment/chemoprevention of breast cancer.

Increasing evidence indicates that aberrant regulation of epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) is a determinant of the cancer cell invasive and metastatic behavior. The effects of ATRA on EMT are largely unknown.

In HER2-positive SKBR3 and UACC812 cells, showing co-amplification of the ERBB2 and RARA genes, ATRA activates a RARα-dependent epithelial differentiation program. In SKBR3 cells, this causes the formation/reorganization of adherens and tight junctions. Epithelial differentiation and augmented cell-cell contacts underlie the anti-migratory action exerted by the retinoid in cells exposed to the EMT-inducing factors EGF and heregulin-β1.

Down-regulation of NOTCH1, an emerging EMT modulator, is involved in the inhibition of motility by ATRA. Indeed, the retinoid blocks NOTCH1 up-regulation by EGF and/or heregulin-β1. Pharmacological inhibition of γ-secretase and NOTCH1 processing also abrogates SKBR3 cell migration.

Stimulation of TGFβ contributes to the anti-migratory effect of ATRA. The retinoid switches TGFβ from an EMT-inducing and pro-migratory determinant to an anti-migratory mediator. Inhibition of the NOTCH1 pathway not only plays a role in the anti-migratory action of ATRA; it is relevant also for the anti-proliferative activity of the retinoid in HCC1599 breast cancer cells, which are addicted to NOTCH1 for growth/viability.

This effect is enhanced by the combination of ATRA and the γ-secretase inhibitor N-(N-(3,5-difluorophenacetyl)-l-alanyl)-S-phenylglycine t-butyl ester, supporting the concept that the two compounds act at the transcriptional and post-translational levels along the NOTCH1 pathway.



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See also All-Trans-Retinoic Acid (ATRA - analogues and/or derivatives).