Research Papers:

The matricellular protein CYR61 promotes breast cancer lung metastasis by facilitating tumor cell extravasation and suppressing anoikis

Yu-Ting Huang, Qiang Lan, Girieca Lorusso, Nathalie Duffey and Curzio Rüegg _

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Oncotarget. 2017; 8:9200-9215. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.13677

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Yu-Ting Huang1,2,*, Qiang Lan1,2,*, Girieca Lorusso1,2, Nathalie Duffey1, Curzio Rüegg1,2

1Department of Medicine, Faculty of Science, University of Fribourg, Fribourg, Switzerland

2National Center for Competence in Research (NCCR), Molecular Oncology, Swiss Institute for Experimental Cancer Research (ISREC)-Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), Lausanne, Switzerland

*These authors contributed equally to this work

Correspondence to:

Curzio Rüegg, email: [email protected]

Keywords: CYR61, metastasis, extravasation, anoikis resistance

Received: June 20, 2016     Accepted: November 19, 2016     Published: November 29, 2016


Matricellular proteins play multiple roles in primary tumor growth, local invasion and tumor angiogenesis. However, their contribution to metastasis and the putative mechanisms involved are less well characterized. In ER-negative human breast cancer, elevated expression levels of the matricellular protein Cysteine-rich angiogenic inducer 61 (CYR61) are associated with more aggressive progression. Here, we investigated the role of CYR61 in breast cancer lung metastasis using the triple negative human breast cancer cell lines MDA-MB-231 and SUM159. Silencing of CYR61 significantly decreased lung metastasis from tumors orthotopically implanted in pre-irradiated or naive mammary tissue and upon tail vein injection. Constitutive CYR61 silencing impaired cancer cell extravasation to the lung during the first 24 hours after tail vein injection. In contrast, CYR61 inducible silencing starting 24 hours after cancer cell injection had no impact on lung metastasis formation. In vitro experiments revealed that CYR61 silencing decreased cancer cell transendothelial migration and motility, reduced CYR61 levels present at the cell surface and sensitized cancer cells to anoikis. Furthermore, we demonstrate that CYR61-dependent cell survival under non-adhesive conditions relied, at least partially, on β1 integrin ligation and AMPKα signaling while it was independent of AKT, FAK and ERK1/2 activation. Our data provide the first evidence that CYR61 promotes breast cancer lung metastasis by facilitating tumor cell extravasation and protecting from anoikis during initial seeding to the lung. The uncovered CYR61-β1 integrin-AMPKα axis may serve as a potential therapeutic target to prevent breast cancer metastasis to the lung.

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