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Loss of the Vitamin D Receptor in Human Breast Cancer Cells Promotes Epithelial to Mesenchymal Cell Transition and Skeletal Colonization


Expression of the vitamin D receptor (VDR) is thought to be associated with neoplastic progression. However, the role of the VDR in breast cancer metastasis to bone and the molecular mechanisms underlying this process are unknown. Employing a rodent model (female Balb/c nu/nu mice) of systemic metastasis, we here demonstrate that knockdown of the VDR strongly increases the metastatic potential of MDA-MB-231 human breast cancer cells to bone, resulting in significantly greater skeletal tumor burden. Ablation of VDR expression promotes cancer cell mobility (migration) and invasiveness, thereby facilitating skeletal colonization. Mechanistically, these changes in tumor cell behavior are attributable to shifts in the expression of proteins involved in cell adhesion, proliferation, and cytoskeletal organization, patterns characteristic for epithelial-to-mesenchymal cell transition (EMT). In keeping with these experimental findings, analyses of human breast cancer specimens corroborated the association between VDR expression, EMT-typical changes in protein expression patterns, and clinical prognosis. Loss of the VDR in human breast cancer cells marks a critical point in oncogenesis by inducing EMT, promoting the dissemination of cancer cells, and facilitating the formation of tumor colonies in bone. (c) 2019 American Society for Bone and Mineral Research.

Type Journal
ISBN 1523-4681 (Electronic) 0884-0431 (Linking)
Authors Horas, K.; Zheng, Y.; Fong-Yee, C.; Macfarlane, E.; Manibo, J.; Chen, Y.; Qiao, J.; Gao, M.; Haydar, N.; McDonald, M. M.; Croucher, P. I.; Zhou, H.; Seibel, M. J.
Responsible Garvan Author Prof Peter Croucher
Published Date 2019-09-01
Published Volume 34
Published Issue 9
Published Pages 1721-1732
Status Published in-print
DOI 10.1002/jbmr.3744
URL link to publisher's version