1. Department of Oncology, The First Affiliated Hospital of Chongqing Medical University, Chongqing 400016, China.
2. Department of Oncology, Jiulongpo People's Hospital, Chongqing 400050, China.
3. Department of Laboratory Medicine, Jiulongpo People's Hospital, Chongqing 400050, China.
4. Chongqing Key Laboratory of Translational Research for Cancer Metastasis and Individualized Treatment, Chongqing University Cancer Hospital, Chongqing 400030, China.
#These authors have contributed equally to this work.
Breast cancer metastasis can happen even when the primary tumor is relatively small. But the mechanism for such early metastasis is poorly understood. Herein, we report that neurotrophin 4 (NTF4) plays a dual role in breast cancer proliferation and metastasis. Clinical data showed high levels of NTF4, especially in the early stage, to be associated with poor clinical outcomes, supporting the notion that metastasis, rather than primary cancer, was the major determinant of breast cancer mortality for patients. NTF4 promoted epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT), cell motility, and invasiveness of breast cancer cells in vitro and in vivo. Interestingly, NTF4 inhibited cell proliferation while promoting cellular apoptosis in vitro and inhibited xenograft tumorigenicity in vivo. Mechanistically, NTF4 elicited its pro-metastatic effects by activating PRKDC/AKT and ANXA1/NF-κB pathways to stabilize SNAIL protein, therefore decreasing the level of E-cadherin. Conversely, NTF4 increased ANXA1 phosphorylation and sumoylation and the interaction with importin β, leading to nuclear import and retention of ANXA1, which in turn activates the caspase-3 apoptosis cascade. Our findings identified an unexpected dual role for NTF4 in breast cancer which contributes to early metastasis of the disease. Therefore, NTF4 may serve as a prognostic marker and a potential therapeutic target for breast cancer.
Keywords: Breast cancer, NTF4, epithelial-mesenchymal transition, metastasis, apoptosis