Mesenchymal stromal cell activation by breast cancer secretomes in bioengineered 3D microenvironments

Ulrich Blache, Edward R. Horton, Tian Xia, Erwin M. Schoof, Lene H. Blicher, Angelina Schönenberger, Jess G. Snedeker, Ivan Martin, Janine T. Erler*, Martin Ehrbar

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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Mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) are key contributors of the tumour microenvironment and are known to promote cancer progression through reciprocal communication with cancer cells, but how they become activated is not fully understood. Here, we investigate how breast cancer cells from different stages of the metastatic cascade convert MSCs into tumour-associated MSCs (TA-MSCs) using unbiased, global approaches. Using mass spectrometry, we compared the secretomes of MCF-7 cells, invasive MDA-MB-231 cells, and sublines isolated from bone, lung, and brain metastases and identified ECM and exosome components associated with invasion and organ-specific metastasis. Next, we used synthetic hydrogels to investigate how these different secretomes activate MSCs in bioengineered 3D microenvironments. Using kinase activity profiling and RNA sequencing, we found that only MDA-MB-231 breast cancer secretomes convert MSCs into TA-MSCs, resulting in an immunomodulatory phenotype that was particularly prominent in response to bone-tropic cancer cells. We have investigated paracrine signalling from breast cancer cells to TA-MSCs in 3D, which may highlight new potential targets for anticancer therapy approaches aimed at targeting tumour stroma.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere201900304
JournalLife Science Alliance
Issue number3
Number of pages15
Publication statusPublished - 2019


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