Enhancement of the migration of metastatic human breast cancer cells by phosphatidic acid

Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2000 Feb 16;268(2):471-9. doi: 10.1006/bbrc.2000.2111.


Phosphatidic acid (PA), lysophosphatidic acid (LPA), and sphingosine 1-phosphate (SPP) are naturally occurring phospholipids which induce a variety of effects as extracellular messengers. In this study, we compared the effects of these phospholipid signaling molecules on the migration of invasive and noninvasive breast cancer cell lines, an index of the metastatic potential of these cells. As previously demonstrated, invasive MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cells exhibited increased constitutive (nonstimulated) migration in comparison to poorly invasive MCF-7 cells. Phosphatidic acid employed at nanomolar concentrations markedly potentiated migration of the invasive cells but had no effect on migration of either the noninvasive MCF-7 cells or nonneoplastic human epithelial cells. Lysophosphatidic acid and sphingosine 1-phosphate inhibited both the directed (chemotactic) and random (chemokinetic) migration of MDA-MB-231 cells. Experiments were undertaken to characterize the signaling pathway involved in constitutive and PA-stimulated migration of MDA-MB-231 cells. The tyrosine kinase inhibitors staurosporine and genistein inhibited constitutive and PA-induced migration in a dose-dependent manner, consistent with a role for tyrosine phosphorylation in the migratory response. In addition, the phosphatidylinositol (PI) 3' kinase inhibitors wortmannin and LY294002 strongly inhibited both the constitutive and PA-stimulated migration of the invasive breast cancer cells, indicating that PI-3' kinase plays an important role in the metastatic migration of breast cancer cells. Finally, PA-induced migration of MDA-MB-231 was markedly attenuated by pretreatment of cells with Clostridium difficile Toxin B, pertussis toxin and suramin, implying a role for a Gi receptor-dependent process involving activation of the small GTP-binding protein Rho. Since an enhanced ability to migrate heightens the metastatic potential of cells within solid tumors, our results suggest that the metastatic capabilities of breast cancer cells may be enhanced by a receptor-driven cellular process initiated by phosphatidic acid or related lipid phosphate messengers.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Cell Movement / drug effects
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Chemotaxis / drug effects*
  • Humans
  • Neoplasm Metastasis
  • Phosphatidic Acids / pharmacology*
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured


  • Phosphatidic Acids