Role of TRAF2/6 in tumour growth and bone metastases associated with breast cancer
Peramuhendige, Pushpabhani Prabha
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Tumour necrosis factor receptor associated factors (TRAFs) play a key role in signal transduction in mammalian cells. Several members of the TRAF family have been identified but only TRAF2 and TRAF6 are implicated in the regulation of both osteoclastic bone resorption and breast cancer. Here I studied the role of TRAF2 and TRAF6 in breast cancer induced osteoclastogenesis and osteolysis. I observed that TRAF2, but not TRAF6, is highly expressed in a highly metastatic bone-tropic clone of the human MDA-MB-231-BT (MDA-231-BT) breast cancer cells when compared to parental MDA-MB-231 (MDA-231) cells. Targeted knockdown of TRAF2, but not TRAF6, in both parental MDA-231 and bone-tropic MDA-231-BT breast cancer cells by siRNAs markedly reduced cell migration and significantly reduced the ability of these cells and their conditioned medium to induce osteoclast formation in RANKL stimulated bone marrow cultures. Encouraged by these data, I generated stable parental MDA-231 and bone-tropic MDA-231-BT breast cancer cell lines overexpressing TRAF2 using a retroviral approach. Then, I went on to show that overexpression of TRAF2 in parental MDA-231 cell line significantly stimulated directed cell migration and 3D invasion in vitro. Bone-tropic MDA-231-BT breast cancer cells over expressing TRAF2 or their conditioned medium were significantly effective in enhancing RANKL induced osteoclast formation in vitro. Mechanistic studies in parental MDA-231 and bone-tropic MDA-231-BT breast cancer cells revealed that over-expression of TRAF2 enhanced cell migration and osteoclastogenesis via a mechanism that involves the activation of the breast cancer oncogene IKKepsilon (IKKε) coupled with significant increase in levels of Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). Ex vivo studies in human MDA-231-mouse calvaria organ co-cultures showed that conditioned medium obtained from MDA- 231 cells enhanced calvarial osteolysis. In vivo studies showed that overexpression of TRAF2 in the human breast cancer cells MDA-231 enhanced tumour incidence and tumour volume after orthotopic injection and exacerbated osteolysis after supracalvarial injection of conditioned medium from these cells. In conclusion, our studies showed that the TRAF2/IKK/VEGF axis in breast cancer cells regulates breast cancer cell motility in vitro, osteoclastogenesis in vitro and osteolysis ex vivo and in vivo. However, the role of TRAF2 in bone metastasis associated with breast cancer will require further in vivo investigation.