Research Papers:

Tropomyosin isoform Tpm2.1 regulates collective and amoeboid cell migration and cell aggregation in breast epithelial cells

HyeRim Shin, Dayoung Kim and David M. Helfman _

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Oncotarget. 2017; 8:95192-95205. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.19182

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HyeRim Shin1, Dayoung Kim1 and David M. Helfman1

1Department of Biological Sciences, Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, Daejeon, Republic of Korea

Correspondence to:

David M. Helfman, email: [email protected]

Keywords: collective cell migration, amoeboid migration, cell aggregation, AXL receptor tyrosine kinase, metastasis

Received: November 17, 2016     Accepted: June 20, 2017     Published: July 12, 2017


Metastasis dissemination is the result of various processes including cell migration and cell aggregation. These processes involve alterations in the expression and organization of cytoskeletal and adhesion proteins in tumor cells. Alterations in actin filaments and their binding partners are known to be key players in metastasis. Downregulation of specific tropomyosin (Tpm) isoforms is a common characteristic of transformed cells. In this study, we examined the role of Tpm2.1 in non-transformed MCF10A breast epithelial cells in cell migration and cell aggregation, because this isoform is downregulated in primary and metastatic breast cancer as well as various breast cancer cell lines. Downregulation of Tpm2.1 using siRNA or shRNA resulted in retardation of collective cell migration but increase in single cell migration and invasion. Loss of Tpm2.1 is associated with enhanced actomyosin contractility and increased expression of E-cadherin and β-catenin. Furthermore, inhibition of Rho-associated kinase (ROCK) recovered collective cell migration in Tpm2.1-silenced cells. We also found that Tpm2.1-silenced cells formed more compacted spheroids and exhibited faster cell motility when spheroids were re-plated on 2D surfaces coated with fibronectin and collagen. When Tpm2.1 was downregulated, we observed a decrease in the level of AXL receptor tyrosine kinase, which may explain the increased levels of E-cadherin and β-catenin. These studies demonstrate that Tpm2.1 functions as an important regulator of cell migration and cell aggregation in breast epithelial cells. These findings suggest that downregulation of Tpm2.1 may play a critical role during tumor progression by facilitating the metastatic potential of tumor cells.

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