CCN5/WISP-2: A micromanager of breast cancer progression

J Cell Commun Signal. 2012 Jun;6(2):63-71. doi: 10.1007/s12079-012-0158-2. Epub 2012 Apr 10.


The gain of plasticity by a subset of cancer cells is a unique but common sequence of cancer progression from epithelial phenotype to mesenchymal phenotype (EMT) that is followed by migration, invasion and metastasis to a distant organ, and drug resistance. Despite multiple studies, it is still unclear how cancer cells regulate plasticity. Recent studies from our laboratory and others' proposed that CCN5/WISP-2, which is found intracellularly (in the nucleus and cytoplasm) and extracellularly, plays a negative regulator of plasticity. It prevents the EMT process in breast cancer cells as well as pancreatic cancer cells. Multiple genetic insults, including the gain of p53 mutations that accumulate over the time, may perturb CCN5 expression in non-invasive breast cancer cells, which ultimately helps cells to gain invasive phenotypes. Moreover, emerging evidence indicates that several oncogenic lesions such as miR-10b upregulation and activation of TGF-β-signaling can accumulate during CCN5 crisis in breast cancer cells. Collectively, these studies indicate that loss of CCN5 activity may promote breast cancer progression; application of CCN5 protein may represent a novel therapeutic intervention in breast cancer and possibly pancreatic cancer.