Cancers, Vol. 12, Pages 2138: Extracellular Vesicle Transfer from Endothelial Cells Drives VE-Cadherin Expression in Breast Cancer Cells, Thereby Causing Heterotypic Cell Contacts

Summary: Cadherins mediate cohesive contacts between isotypic cells by homophilic interaction and prevent contact between heterotypic cells. Breast cancer cells neighboring endothelial cells (ECs) atypically express vascular endothelial (VE)-cadherin. To understand this EC-induced VE-cadherin expression in breast cancer cells, MCF7 and MDA-MB-231 cells expressing different endogenous cadherins were co-cultured with ECs and analyzed for VE-cadherin at the transcriptional level and by confocal microscopy, flow cytometry, and immunoblotting. After losing their endogenous cadherins and neo-expression of VE-cadherin, these cells integrated into an EC monolayer without compromising the barrier function instantly. However, they induced the death of nearby ECs. EC-derived extracellular vesicles (EVs) contained soluble and membrane-anchored forms of VE-cadherin. Only the latter was re-utilized by the cancer cells. In a reporter gene assay, EC-adjacent cancer cells also showed a juxtacrine but no paracrine activation of the endogenous VE-cadherin gene. This cadherin switch enabled intimate contact between cancer and endothelial cells in a chicken chorioallantoic membrane tumor model showing vasculogenic mimicry (VM). This EV-mediated, EC-induced cadherin switch in breast cancer cells and the neo-expression of VE-cadherin mechanistically explain the mutual communication in the tumor microenvironment. Hence, it may be a target to tackle VM, which is often found in breast cancers of poor prognosis.

Source: Cancers

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