Extracellular calcium promotes the migration of breast cancer cells through the activation of the calcium sensing receptor

Exp Cell Res. 2009 Jul 15;315(12):2072-80. doi: 10.1016/j.yexcr.2009.03.003. Epub 2009 Mar 13.


Breast cancer is the most frequent form of cancer in women, with the highest incidence of metastasis to the bone. The reason for the preferential destination to the bone is believed to be due to chemoattractant factors released during bone resorption, which act on the cancer cells facilitating their metastasis. One of the factors released during osteolysis that may mediate breast cancer bone localization is Ca2+. Here, we show that extracellular Ca2+ (Ca2+(o)) acting via the calcium-sensing receptor (CaSR), greatly promotes the migration of bone-preferring breast cancer cells. In Boyden Chamber and Scratch Wound migration assays, an increase in breast cancer cell migration was observed at 2.5 mM and 5 mM Ca2+(o) compared to basal levels for three of the four breast cancer cell lines tested. However, a significantly greater migratory response was observed for the highly bone metastatic MDA-MB-231 cells, compared to the MCF7 and T47D, which have a lower metastatic potential in vivo. The BT474 cells, which do not metastasize to the bone, did not respond to elevated concentrations of Ca2+(o) in the migration assays. Inhibition of either ERK1/2 MAPK or phospholipase Cbeta (PLCbeta) led to an abolition of the Ca2+(o)-induced migration, implicating these pathways in the migratory response. Knockdown of the CaSR by siRNA resulted in an inhibition of the Ca2+(o)-induced migration, demonstrating the involvement of this receptor in the effect. These results suggest that the activation of the CaSR by elevated Ca2+(o) concentrations, such as those found near resorbing bone, produces an especially strong chemoattractant effect on bone metastatic breast cancer cells toward the Ca2+-rich environment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bone Neoplasms / secondary
  • Breast Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology
  • Butadienes / pharmacology
  • Calcium / metabolism*
  • Calcium Signaling / physiology*
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Chemotaxis
  • Estrenes / pharmacology
  • Extracellular Signal-Regulated MAP Kinases / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Extracellular Signal-Regulated MAP Kinases / metabolism
  • Extracellular Space / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Nitriles / pharmacology
  • Phospholipase C beta / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Phospholipase C beta / metabolism
  • Pyrrolidinones / pharmacology
  • Receptors, Calcium-Sensing / physiology*


  • Butadienes
  • Estrenes
  • Nitriles
  • Pyrrolidinones
  • Receptors, Calcium-Sensing
  • U 0126
  • 1-(6-((3-methoxyestra-1,3,5(10)-trien-17-yl)amino)hexyl)-1H-pyrrole-2,5-dione
  • Extracellular Signal-Regulated MAP Kinases
  • Phospholipase C beta
  • Calcium