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Title: Therapeutic Targeting of Stromal-Tumor HGF-MET Signaling in an Organotypic Triple-Negative Breast Tumor Model
Abstract The tumor microenvironment (TME) promotes proliferation, drug resistance, and invasiveness of cancer cells. Therapeutic targeting of the TME is an attractive strategy to improve outcomes for patients, particularly in aggressive cancers such as triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) that have a rich stroma and limited targeted therapies. However, lack of preclinical human tumor models for mechanistic understanding of tumor–stromal interactions has been an impediment to identify effective treatments against the TME. To address this need, we developed a three-dimensional organotypic tumor model to study interactions of patient-derived cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAF) with TNBC cells and explore potential therapy targets. We found that CAFs predominantly secreted hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) and activated MET receptor tyrosine kinase in TNBC cells. This tumor–stromal interaction promoted invasiveness, epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition, and activities of multiple oncogenic pathways in TNBC cells. Importantly, we established that TNBC cells become resistant to monotherapy and demonstrated a design-driven approach to select drug combinations that effectively inhibit prometastatic functions of TNBC cells. Our study also showed that HGF from lung fibroblasts promotes colony formation by TNBC cells, suggesting that blocking HGF-MET signaling potentially could target both primary TNBC tumorigenesis and lung metastasis. Overall, we established the utility of our organotypic tumor model to identify and therapeutically target specific mechanisms of tumor–stromal interactions in TNBC toward the goal of developing targeted therapies against the TME. Implications: Leveraging a state-of-the-art organotypic tumor model, we demonstrated that CAFs-mediated HGF-MET signaling drive tumorigenic activities in TNBC and presents a therapeutic target.  more » « less
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Journal Name:
Molecular Cancer Research
Page Range / eLocation ID:
1166 to 1177
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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