Brain metastases occur in about 10% to 30% of breast cancer patients, which culminates in a poor prognosis. It is, therefore, critical to understand the molecular mechanisms underlying brain metastatic processes to identify relevant targets. We hypothesized that breast cancer cells must express brain-associated markers that would enable their invasion and survival in the brain microenvironment. We assessed a panel of brainpredominant markers and found an elevation of several neuronal markers (βIII-tubulin, Nestin, and AchE) in brain metastatic breast cancer cells. Among these neuronal predominant markers, in silico analysis revealed overexpression of bIII-tubulin (TUBB3) in breast cancer brain metastases (BCBM) and its expression was significantly associated with distant metastases. TUBB3 knockdown studies were conducted in breast cancer models (MDA-Br, GLIM2, and MDA-MB-468), which revealed significant reduction in their invasive capabilities. MDA-Br cells with suppressed TUBB3 also demonstrated loss of key signaling molecules such as β3 integrin, pFAK, and pSrc in vitro. Furthermore, TUBB3 knockdown in a brain metastatic breast cancer cell line compromised its metastatic ability in vivo, and significantly improved survival in a brain metastasis model. These results implicate a critical role of TUBB3 in conferring brain metastatic potential to breast cancer cells.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research