Research Papers:

This article has been corrected. Correction in: Oncotarget. 2017; 8:113294.

A niche that triggers aggressiveness within BRCA1-IRIS overexpressing triple negative tumors is supported by reciprocal interactions with the microenvironment

Daniel Ryan, Abhilasha Sinha, Danielle Bogan, Joanna Davies, Jim Koziol and Wael M. ElShamy _

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Oncotarget. 2017; 8:103182-103206. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.20892

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Daniel Ryan1,*, Abhilasha Sinha2,*, Danielle Bogan2,*, Joanna Davies1, Jim Koziol3 and Wael M. ElShamy1

1Breast Cancer Program, San Diego Biomedical Research Institute, San Diego, CA, USA

2University of Mississippi Medical Center, Jackson, MS, USA

3Department of Molecular and Experimental Medicine, Scripps Research Institute, San Diego, CA, USA

*These authors have contributed equally to this work

Correspondence to:

Wael M. ElShamy, email: [email protected]

Keywords: BRCA1-IRIS; macrophages; mesenchymal stem cells; metastasis; Il-1beta

Received: November 16, 2016    Accepted: August 15, 2017    Published: September 14, 2017


Production of metastasis capable precursors begins within the primary tumor. Here, we define the bidirectional interactions with stromal cells involved in promoting these precursors within BRCA1-IRIS (hereafter IRIS) overexpressing (IRISOE) TNBC tumors. We define an aggressiveness niche, functionally defined as the necrotic/hypoxic core of the tumor, in which metabolically stressed, hypoxic, and inflamed IRISOE TNBC cells secrete higher levels of cytokines, chemokines and growth factors. One cytokine; IL-1β attracts mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) to the niche and activates them to secrete CXCL1 that entrains IRISOE cells to secrete higher levels of CCL2 and VEGF. CCL2 attracts macrophages (TAMs) to the niche and activates them to secrete S100A8, and VEGF attracts endothelial cells (ECs) and activates them to secrete IL-8. In concert, CXCL1, S100A8 and IL-8 entrain aggressiveness in IRISOE TNBC cells within the niche. Indeed, compared to IRISOE cells alone, tumors developed by co-injecting IRISOE cells admixed with MSCs (10:1) in athymic mice were bigger and more aggressive. They contained more TAMs and ECs, expressed higher-levels of basal, epithelial to mesenchymal transition, and stemness biomarkers, quickly progressed to lymph-node or visceral metastases, and were highly sensitive to the IL-1β inhibitor “Anakinra”. Our findings supported by human data show that breast cancer patients with high-levels of IL-1β, CXCL1, CCL2, S100A8, VEGF, and IL-8 would show worse clinical outcomes. Our findings argue that this cytokine set is a diagnostic biomarker for patients who may benefit from an IRIS inhibitor-based therapy, and is a blue print for translation of approaches to combining that therapy with inhibitors of these bidirectional interactions to overcome TNBC metastasis.

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