Priority Research Papers:

MDA-9/Syntenin (SDCBP) modulates small GTPases RhoA and Cdc42 via transforming growth factor β1 to enhance epithelial-mesenchymal transition in breast cancer

Mitchell E. Menezes, Xue-Ning Shen, Swadesh K. Das, Luni Emdad, Devanand Sarkar and Paul B. Fisher _

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Oncotarget. 2016; 7:80175-80189. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.13373

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Mitchell E. Menezes1, Xue-Ning Shen1, Swadesh K. Das1,2,3, Luni Emdad1,2,3, Devanand Sarkar1,2,3 and Paul B. Fisher1,2,3

1 Department of Human and Molecular Genetics, Virginia Commonwealth University, School of Medicine, Richmond, VA, USA

2 VCU Institute of Molecular Medicine, Virginia Commonwealth University, School of Medicine, Richmond, VA, USA

3 VCU Massey Cancer Center, Virginia Commonwealth University, School of Medicine, Richmond, VA, USA

Correspondence to:

Paul B. Fisher, email:

Keywords: melanoma differentiation associated gene-9/syntenin, breast cancer, epithelial-mesenchymal transition, transforming growth factor beta 1

Received: August 23, 2016 Accepted: November 01, 2016 Published: November 15, 2016


Epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) is one of the decisive steps regulating cancer invasion and metastasis. However, the molecular mechanisms underlying this transition require further clarification. MDA-9/syntenin (SDCBP) expression is elevated in breast cancer patient samples as well as cultured breast cancer cells. Silencing expression of MDA-9 in mesenchymal metastatic breast cancer cells triggered a change in cell morphology in both 2D- and 3D-cultures to a more epithelial-like phenotype, along with changes in EMT markers, cytoskeletal rearrangement and decreased invasion. Conversely, over expressing MDA-9 in epithelial non-metastatic breast cancer cells instigated a change in morphology to a more mesenchymal phenotype with corresponding changes in EMT markers, cytoskeletal rearrangement and an increase in invasion. We also found that MDA-9 upregulated active levels of known modulators of EMT, the small GTPases RhoA and Cdc42, via TGFβ1. Reintroducing TGFβ1 in MDA-9 silenced cells restored active RhoA and cdc42 levels, modulated cytoskeletal rearrangement and increased invasion. We further determined that MDA-9 interacts with TGFβ1 via its PDZ1 domain. Finally, in vivo studies demonstrated that silencing the expression of MDA-9 resulted in decreased lung metastasis and TGFβ1 re-expression partially restored lung metastases. Our findings provide evidence for the relevance of MDA-9 in mediating EMT in breast cancer and support the potential of MDA-9 as a therapeutic target against metastatic disease.

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