Blog
About

  • Record: found
  • Abstract: found
  • Article: not found

Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor Mediates Intracrine Survival in Human Breast Carcinoma Cells through Internally Expressed VEGFR1/FLT1

Read this article at

ScienceOpenPublisherPMC
Bookmark
      There is no author summary for this article yet. Authors can add summaries to their articles on ScienceOpen to make them more accessible to a non-specialist audience.

      Abstract

      Background

      While vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) expression in breast tumors has been correlated with a poor outcome in the pathogenesis of breast cancer, the expression, localization, and function of VEGF receptors VEGFR1 (also known as FLT1) and VEGFR2 (also known as KDR or FLK1), as well as neuropilin 1 (NRP1), in breast cancer are controversial.

      Methods and Findings

      We investigated the expression and function of VEGF and VEGF receptors in breast cancer cells. We observed that VEGFR1 expression was abundant, VEGFR2 expression was low, and NRP1 expression was variable. MDA-MB-231 and MCF-7 breast cancer cells, transfected with antisense VEGF cDNA or with siVEGF ( VEGF-targeted small interfering RNA), showed a significant reduction in VEGF expression and increased apoptosis as compared to the control cells. Additionally, specifically targeted knockdown of VEGFR1 expression by siRNA (siVEGFR1) significantly decreased the survival of breast cancer cells through down-regulation of protein kinase B (AKT) phosphorylation, while targeted knockdown of VEGFR2 or NRP1 expression had no effect on the survival of these cancer cells. Since a VEGFR1-specific ligand, placenta growth factor (PGF), did not, as expected, inhibit the breast cancer cell apoptosis induced by siVEGF, and since VEGFR1 antibody also had no effects on the survival of these cells, we examined VEGFR1 localization. VEGFR1 was predominantly expressed internally in MDA-MB-231 and MCF-7 breast cancer cells. Specifically, VEGFR1 was found to be colocalized with lamin A/C and was expressed mainly in the nuclear envelope in breast cancer cell lines and primary breast cancer tumors. Breast cancer cells treated with siVEGFR1 showed significantly decreased VEGFR1 expression levels and a lack of VEGFR1 expression in the nuclear envelope.

      Conclusions

      This study provides, to our knowledge for the first time, evidence of a unique survival system in breast cancer cells by which VEGF can act as an internal autocrine (intracrine) survival factor through its binding to VEGFR1. These results may lead to an improved strategy for tumor therapy based on the inhibition of angiogenesis.

      Abstract

      Shalom Avraham and colleagues' study provides evidence of a survival system in breast cancer cells by which VEGF acts as an internal autocrine survival factor through its binding to VEGFR1.

      Editors' Summary

      Background.

      One woman in eight will develop breast cancer during her lifetime. Most of these women live for many years after their diagnosis and many are cured of their cancer. However, sometimes the cancer grows inexorably and spreads (metastasizes) around the body despite the efforts of oncologists. Characteristics of the tumor known as prognostic factors can indicate whether this spreading is likely to happen. Large tumors that have metastasized have a poorer prognosis than small tumors that are confined to the breast. The expression of specific proteins within the tumor also provides prognostic information. One protein whose expression is associated with a poor prognosis is vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). VEGF stimulates angiogenesis—the growth of new blood vessels. Small tumors get the nutrients needed for their growth from existing blood vessels but large tumors need to organize their own blood supply. They do this, in part, by secreting VEGF. This compound binds to proteins (receptors) on the surface of endothelial cells (the cells lining blood vessels), which then send a signal into the cell instructing it to make new blood vessels. Angiogenesis inhibitors, including molecules that block the activity of VEGF receptors, are being developed for the treatment of cancer.

      Why Was This Study Done?

      Some breast cancer cell lines (cells isolated from breast cancers and grown in the laboratory) make VEGF and VEGF receptors (VEGFR1, VEGFR2, and neuropilin 1 [NRP1]). But, although some studies have reported an association between VEGFR1 expression in breast tumors and a poor prognosis, other studies have found no expression of VEGFR1 in breast tumors. Consequently, the role of VEGF receptors in breast cancer is unclear. In this study, the researchers analyzed the expression and function of VEGF and its receptors in breast cancer cells to investigate whether and how VEGF helps these cells to survive.

      What Did the Researchers Do and Find?

      The researchers first examined the expression of VEGF receptors in several human breast cancer cell lines. All of them expressed VEGFR1, some expressed NRP1, but VEGFR2 expression was universally low. They then investigated the function of VEGF and its receptors in two human breast cancer cell lines (MDA-MB-231 and MCF-7). In both cell lines, blocking the expression of VEGF or of VEGFR1 (but not of the other two receptors) reduced cell survival by stimulating a specific process of cell death called apoptosis. Unexpectedly, adding VEGF to the cultures did not reverse the effect of blocking VEGF expression, a result that suggests that VEGF and VEGFR1 do not affect breast cancer cell survival by acting at the cell surface. Accordingly, when the researchers examined where VEGFR1 occurs in the cell, they found it on the membranes around the nucleus of the breast cancer cell lines and not on the cell surface; several primary breast tumors and normal breast tissue had the same localization pattern. Finally, the researchers showed that inhibitors of VEGF action that act at the cell surface did not affect the survival of the breast cancer cell lines.

      What Do These Findings Mean?

      These findings suggest that VEGF helps breast cancer cells to survive in a unique way: by binding to VEGFR1 inside the cell. In other words, whereas VEGF normally acts as a paracrine growth factor (it is released by one cell and affects another cell), in breast cancer cells it might act as an internal autocrine (intracrine) survival factor, a factor that affects the cells in which it is produced. These findings need confirming in more cell lines and in primary breast cancers but could have important implications for the treatment of breast cancer. Inhibitors of VEGF and VEGFR1 that act inside the cell (small molecule drugs) might block breast cancer growth more effectively than inhibitors that act at the cell surface (for example, proteins that bind to the receptor), because internally acting inhibitors might both kill the tumor directly and have antiangiogenic effects, whereas externally acting inhibitors could only have the second effect.

      Additional Information.

      Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0040186.

      • US National Cancer Institute information for patients and professionals on breast cancer (in English and Spanish) and on angiogenesis (in English and Spanish)

      • MedlinePlus Encyclopedia information for patients on breast cancer (in English and Spanish)

      • CancerQuest, information from Emory University on cancer biology and on angiogenesis and angiogenesis inhibitors (in several languages)

      • Wikipedia pages on VEGF (note: Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit; available in several languages)

      Related collections

      Most cited references 37

      • Record: found
      • Abstract: not found
      • Article: not found

      Gene expression profiling predicts clinical outcome of breast cancer.

      Breast cancer patients with the same stage of disease can have markedly different treatment responses and overall outcome. The strongest predictors for metastases (for example, lymph node status and histological grade) fail to classify accurately breast tumours according to their clinical behaviour. Chemotherapy or hormonal therapy reduces the risk of distant metastases by approximately one-third; however, 70-80% of patients receiving this treatment would have survived without it. None of the signatures of breast cancer gene expression reported to date allow for patient-tailored therapy strategies. Here we used DNA microarray analysis on primary breast tumours of 117 young patients, and applied supervised classification to identify a gene expression signature strongly predictive of a short interval to distant metastases ('poor prognosis' signature) in patients without tumour cells in local lymph nodes at diagnosis (lymph node negative). In addition, we established a signature that identifies tumours of BRCA1 carriers. The poor prognosis signature consists of genes regulating cell cycle, invasion, metastasis and angiogenesis. This gene expression profile will outperform all currently used clinical parameters in predicting disease outcome. Our findings provide a strategy to select patients who would benefit from adjuvant therapy.
        Bookmark
        • Record: found
        • Abstract: found
        • Article: not found

        The biology of VEGF and its receptors.

        Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) is a key regulator of physiological angiogenesis during embryogenesis, skeletal growth and reproductive functions. VEGF has also been implicated in pathological angiogenesis associated with tumors, intraocular neovascular disorders and other conditions. The biological effects of VEGF are mediated by two receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs), VEGFR-1 and VEGFR-2, which differ considerably in signaling properties. Non-signaling co-receptors also modulate VEGF RTK signaling. Currently, several VEGF inhibitors are undergoing clinical testing in several malignancies. VEGF inhibition is also being tested as a strategy for the prevention of angiogenesis, vascular leakage and visual loss in age-related macular degeneration.
          Bookmark
          • Record: found
          • Abstract: found
          • Article: not found

          Role of the vascular endothelial growth factor pathway in tumor growth and angiogenesis.

          New blood vessel formation (angiogenesis) is a fundamental event in the process of tumor growth and metastatic dissemination. Hence, the molecular basis of tumor angiogenesis has been of keen interest in the field of cancer research. The vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) pathway is well established as one of the key regulators of this process. The VEGF/VEGF-receptor axis is composed of multiple ligands and receptors with overlapping and distinct ligand-receptor binding specificities, cell-type expression, and function. Activation of the VEGF-receptor pathway triggers a network of signaling processes that promote endothelial cell growth, migration, and survival from pre-existing vasculature. In addition, VEGF mediates vessel permeability, and has been associated with malignant effusions. More recently, an important role for VEGF has emerged in mobilization of endothelial progenitor cells from the bone marrow to distant sites of neovascularization. The well-established role of VEGF in promoting tumor angiogenesis and the pathogenesis of human cancers has led to the rational design and development of agents that selectively target this pathway. Studies with various anti-VEGF/VEGF-receptor therapies have shown that these agents can potently inhibit angiogenesis and tumor growth in preclinical models. Recently, an anti-VEGF antibody (bevacizumab), when used in combination with chemotherapy, was shown to significantly improve survival and response rates in patients with metastatic colorectal cancer and thus, validate VEGF pathway inhibitors as an important new treatment modality in cancer therapy.
            Bookmark

            Author and article information

            Affiliations
            Division of Experimental Medicine, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, United States of America
            Sunnybrook and Women's College Health Sciences Centre, Canada
            Author notes
            * To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: savraham@ 123456bidmc.harvard.edu
            Contributors
            Role: Academic Editor
            Journal
            PLoS Med
            pmed
            PLoS Medicine
            Public Library of Science (San Francisco, USA )
            1549-1277
            1549-1676
            June 2007
            5 June 2007
            : 4
            : 6
            1885450
            10.1371/journal.pmed.0040186
            06-PLME-RA-0164R2 plme-04-06-04
            17550303
            (Academic Editor)
            Copyright: © 2007 Lee et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
            Counts
            Pages: 16
            Categories
            Research Article
            Cell Biology
            Oncology
            Cancer: Breast
            Custom metadata
            Lee TH, Seng S, Sekine M, Hinton C, Fu Y, et al. (2007) Vascular endothelial growth factor mediates intracrine survival in human breast carcinoma cells through internally expressed VEGFR1/FLT1. PLoS Med 4(6): e186. doi: 10.1371/journal.pmed.0040186

            Medicine

            Comments

            Comment on this article