Role Of Insulin-Like Growth Factors Binding Protien 2 (IGFBP2) In Breast Cancer
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Insulin-like growth factor binding proteins (IGFBPs) modulate the bioavailability of IGFs in circulation. IGFBPs 1-6 bind IGFs with high affinity and can either potentiate or inhibit IGF signaling in a context dependent manner. IGFBP2 is a 36 kDa protein and the second most abundant IGFBP in serum. Numerous studies in the recent past have implied a pro-tumorigenic role of IGFBP2. Elevated expression of IGFBP2 has been observed in multiple malignancies, including glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), ovarian, pancreatic, gastric, prostate, colon, breast, thyroid cancer and leukemia. In addition, increased expression of IGFBP2 in both tissues and serum of patients has been correlated with poor prognosis in prostate, glioblastoma and colon cancers. Pro-tumorigenic actions of IGFBP2 have been supported by in vitro studies, where IGFBP2 increases the tumorigenic potential of adrenocortical tumor cells, epidermoid carcinoma cells, glioma cells and ovarian cancer cells. Further, using xenograft animal models, the role of IGFBP2 in the progression of glioma has been established. In breast cancer, IGFBP2 was found to be over expressed in ductal carcinoma in situ and invasive breast cancer samples. IGFBP2 over expression has been shown to confer drug resistance and an increased expression has been reported to correlate with lymph node metastasis in T1 breast carcinomas. These reports implicate IGFBP2 in breast cancer biology. However, its role in breast cancer progression is not well defined. With this background, the following objectives were set for the current study: Functional characterization of IGFBP2 with respect to its possible role in breast cancer progression. Elucidation of the molecular mechanisms of IGFBP2 actions. Towards this, immunohistochemistry was performed on 132 invasive ductal carcinoma (IDC) grade III tumors using IGFBP2 specific antibody. It was observed that IGFBP2 expression was significantly higher in tumors in comparison to normal tissues that showed no detectable staining for IGFBP2. It was also observed that expression of IGFBP2 significantly correlated with the expression of ER. To understand the functional significance of IGFBP2 over expression in breast cancer, IGFBP2 was characterized with respect to proliferation, survival and tumor forming ability (in vitro and in vivo) in BT474 breast cancer cells. The knockdown of IGFBP2 expression resulted in suppression of colony formation (nearly 70%) in these breast cancer cells, which could be partially reversed upon exogenous addition of IGFBP2 protein. Proliferation assays using stable clones with knockdown of IGFBP2 in BT474 cells showed a significant decrease in proliferation as compared to vector transfected cells in the presence of serum. Culturing of IGFBP2 knockdown breast cancer cells in serum free medium resulted in their growth arrest in G0/G1 phase of cell cycle as compared to control cells, which progressed through the cell cycle. Prolonged culturing of IGFBP2 knockdown cells in serum free condition (up to 72 h) resulted in the increase of cells in sub G1 phase of the cell cycle. Prolonged depletion of growth factors (serum free conditions) could result in apoptosis of these G1 arrested IGFBP2 knockdown cells. When serum starved IGFBP2 knockdown cells were treated with IGFBP2 protein, the cells arrested in G0/G1 phase were able to progress through the cell cycle and concomitant decrease in sub G1 fraction was observed. Knockdown of IGFBP2 resulted in significantly decreased number and visibly smaller colonies in anchorage independent conditions in vitro. Consistent with this observation, in vivo tumor xenograft formation with IGFBP2 knockdown cells also showed significant reduction in tumor weight as compared to vector generated tumors. These results imply that IGFBP2 has potent growth promoting effects on breast cancer and acts as a mitogen/survival factor for breast cancer cells. To elucidate the molecular mechanisms underlying the pro-tumorigenic effects of IGFBP2, the transcriptome profile following IGFBP2 perturbation in breast cancer cells was determined. IGFBP2 knockdown resulted in significant changes in the expression of genes associated with cellular proliferation and tumorigenicity. The down regulated genes were found to be associated with several events, notably cell cycle, p53 and Wnt signaling, as revealed by Gene Set Enrichment Analysis (GSEA). To further validate these results in breast cancer tissues, whole genome expression analysis was performed in 19 breast tumor samples which were categorized as IGFBP2 positive or negative based on immunohistochemical staining pattern. In comparison to IGFBP2 negative tumors, IGFBP2 positive tumors showed increased expression of genes belonging to MAPK, focal adhesion and Wnt signaling pathway. In order to identify the genes commonly regulated by IGFBP2 in cell lines and tumors, the gene expression profiles of IGFBP2 positive versus IGFBP2 negative tumors and IGFBP2 knockdown breast cancer cells were compared. 347 genes were found to be common among IGFBP2 regulated genes in tumors and cell line. The most significant networks representing the web of interactions among these genes were found to be associated with cellular growth and proliferation, cellular movement and nucleic acid metabolism, indicating an association of IGFBP2 expression phenotype to the distinct changes in expression of genes associated with the regulation of cellular growth and migration. Silencing of IGFBP2 in BT474 cells resulted in a reduced IGF signaling as evidenced by the reduced phosphorylation of IGF1R and concomitantly that of ERK. This effect could be reversed upon addition of the IGFBP2 protein, implying that IGFBP2 potentiates IGF signaling in breast cancer cells. Besides IGF ligand and their receptors, regulation of proliferation associated genes like CENPF, TOP2A, CCND1 and FOXM1 by IGFBP2 was observed, thus providing a molecular basis for the pro-proliferative effects of IGFBP2 on breast cancer cells. Addition of IGFBP2 to immortal breast cells resulted in reduced IGF1R signaling and reduced pERK and pAKT signaling. Additionally, the genes involved in cellular proliferation were down regulated upon IGFBP2 treatment in immortal cells. IGFBP2 knockdown clones had reduced expression of FOXM1, a key regulator of cell cycle for G1/S and G2/M transition, and M phase progression. The regulation of CENPF and CCND1 genes was established following over expression of FOXM1 in IGFBP2 knockdown cells. One of the important and novel finding of this study is the regulation of Wnt signaling pathway genes such as CCND1, MMP7, FGF18, MYCBP, FN1 and survivin by IGFBP2. In support of this, β-catenin protein was found to be regulated by IGFBP2 in breast cancer and GBM cells, as evidenced by knockdown and over expression studies. Furthermore, regulation of β-catenin by IGFBP2 was found to involve integrin-FAK and IGF1R signaling. Another important finding of this study is the correlation of IGFBP2 over expression with elevated β-catenin levels in breast tumors. When expression of both IGFBP2 and β-catenin was correlated with the lymph node status of breast cancers, a significant association of IGFBP2 and β-catenin staining with increased lymph node metastasis was observed in comparison with tumors that did not show staining for either protein. Altogether, in this study employing genomic, cellular and molecular approaches, a pro- tumorigenic role for IGFBP2 in breast cancer has been established. Furthermore, this study provides novel insights into the molecular mechanisms employed by IGFBP2 involving IGF1R, FAK and Wnt signaling pathways during breast cancer progression.
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