Research Papers:

Fibrotic microenvironment promotes the metastatic seeding of tumor cells via activating the fibronectin 1/secreted phosphoprotein 1-integrin signaling

Chong Zhang, Mengzhi Wu, Lizhen Zhang, Li-Ru Shang, Jian-Hong Fang and Shi-Mei Zhuang _

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Oncotarget. 2016; 7:45702-45714. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.10157

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Chong Zhang1, Mengzhi Wu1, Lizhen Zhang1, Li-Ru Shang1, Jian-Hong Fang1, Shi-Mei Zhuang1

1Key Laboratory of Gene Engineering of the Ministry of Education, State Key Laboratory of Biocontrol, Collaborative Innovation Center for Cell Signaling Network, School of Life Sciences, Sun Yat-Sen University, Guangzhou, P.R. China

Correspondence to:

Shi-Mei Zhuang, email: [email protected], [email protected]

Jian-Hong Fang, email: [email protected]

Keywords: fibrotic microenvironment, metastatic seeding, FN1, SPP1, ITGAV

Received: March 26, 2016     Accepted: June 03, 2016     Published: June 18, 2016


The seeding of tumor cells is a critical step in the process of metastasis, but whether and how the microenvironment of target organs affects metastatic seeding remain largely unknown. Based on cell and mouse models, we found that the metastatic seeding and outgrowth of tumor cells were significantly enhanced in fibrotic lungs. The conditioned medium from both fibrotic lungs and the fibrotic lung-derived fibroblasts (CM-FLF) had a strong activity to chemoattract tumor cells and to inhibit the apoptosis of tumor cells. Subsequent investigations revealed that the levels of fibronectin 1 (FN1) and secreted phosphoprotein 1 (SPP1) were significantly increased in fibrotic lungs. Silencing of FN1 in the fibrotic lung-derived fibroblasts dramatically decreased the chemoattracting activity of CM-FLF, while silencing of FN1 or SPP1 in fibroblasts attenuated the anti-apoptosis activity of CM-FLF. Moreover, the CM-FLF-induced apoptosis resistance or chemotaxis of tumor cells was attenuated when ITGAV, the common receptor of FN1 and SPP1, was silenced by RNA interference or blocked by GRGDS treatment in tumor cells. Consistently, ITGAV silencing or GRGDS treatment significantly inhibited the seeding and outgrowth of tumor cells in fibrotic lungs in vivo. Collectively, we suggest that fibrotic microenvironment may enhance the metastatic seeding of tumor cells in the lung by chemoattracting tumor cells and inhibiting their apoptosis via activating the FN1/SPP1-ITGAV signaling. These findings give a novel insight into the regulatory mechanisms of cancer metastasis and provide a potential target for anti-metastasis therapy.

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