The interactions of transformed cells with the surrounding stromal cells are of importance for tumor progression and metastasis. The relevance of adipocyte-derived factors to breast cancer cell survival and growth is well established. However, it remains unknown which specific adipocyte-derived factors are most critical in this process. Collagen VI is abundantly expressed in adipocytes. Collagen–/– mice in the background of the mouse mammary tumor virus/polyoma virus middle T oncogene (MMTV-PyMT) mammary cancer model demonstrate dramatically reduced rates of early hyperplasia and primary tumor growth. Collagen VI promotes its growth-stimulatory and pro-survival effects in part by signaling through the NG2/chondroitin sulfate proteoglycan receptor expressed on the surface of malignant ductal epithelial cells to sequentially activate Akt and β-catenin and stabilize cyclin D1. Levels of the carboxyterminal domain of collagen VIα3, a proteolytic product of the full-length molecule, are dramatically upregulated in murine and human breast cancer lesions. The same fragment exerts potent growth-stimulatory effects on MCF-7 cells in vitro. Therefore, adipocytes play a vital role in defining the ECM environment for normal and tumor-derived ductal epithelial cells and contribute significantly to tumor growth at early stages through secretion and processing of collagen VI.
Puneeth Iyengar, Virginia Espina, Terence W. Williams, Ying Lin, David Berry, Linda A. Jelicks, Hyangkyu Lee, Karla Temple, Reed Graves, Jeffrey Pollard, Neeru Chopra, Robert G. Russell, Ram Sasisekharan, Bruce J. Trock, Marc Lippman, Valerie S. Calvert, Emanuel F. Petricoin III, Lance Liotta, Ekaterina Dadachova, Richard G. Pestell, Michael P. Lisanti, Paolo Bonaldo, Philipp E. Scherer