Introduction: Although development of anoikis-resistant myofibroblasts during tissue remodeling is known to be associated with tumor invasion, the mechanism by which myofibroblasts become resistant to anoikis is unknown. We previously demonstrated laminin-332 upregulation in the fibrosis around invasive ductal carcinoma (IDC). Because laminin-332 promotes cell survival through binding to integrins, we hypothesized that invasive breast cancer cells confer an anoikis-resistant phenotype on myofibroblasts by upregulating laminin-332 expression during tissue remodeling. Here, we demonstrate that invasive breast cancer cells induce laminin-332 upregulation and integrin β4 neoexpression in myofibroblasts to confer an anoikis-resistant phenotype.
Methods: Three types of fibroblasts were isolated from the tumor burden, the fibrosis, and normal tissue of patients with early stage IDC (less than 10 mm diameter), designated cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs), interface fibroblasts (InFs), and normal breast fibroblasts (NBFs), respectively. To investigate direct and indirect crosstalk with tumor cells, fibroblasts were co-cultured with invasive MDA-MB-231 or noninvasive MCF7 cells or in conditioned medium. Anoikis resistance of fibroblasts was measured by cell viability and caspase-3 activity after incubation on poly-HEMA coated plates for 72 hours. Involvement of laminin-332/integrin α3β1 or α6β4 signaling in anoikis resistance was confirmed by treatment with purified laminin-332 or blocking antibodies against laminin-332, integrin β1, or integrin β4.
Results: MDA-MB-231 cells induced laminin-332 upregulation and integrin β4 neoexpression in fibroblasts, leading to anoikis resistance. InFs showed a higher endogenous level of laminin-332 than did CAFs and NBFs. After stimulation with MDA-MB-231-conditioned medium, laminin-332 expression of InFs was dramatically increased and maintained under anoikis conditions. Laminin-332 upregulation was also observed in CAFs and NBFs, but at a lower level than in InFs. Laminin-332 induced Akt (Ser473) phosphorylation by binding to integrin α3β1. Integrin β4 neoexpression induced laminin-332-independent Rac1 activation and promoted anoikis resistance in fibroblasts approximately twofold more effectively than did laminin-332, regardless of the type of fibroblast. In addition, integrin β4 expression suppressed fibroblast aggregation in conditions of anoikis.
Conclusion: Invasive breast cancer cells confer an anoikis-resistant phenotype on myofibroblasts during tissue remodeling by inducing laminin-332 upregulation and integrin β4 neoexpression. Interface fibroblasts appear to be the primary myofibroblasts that interact with invasive tumor cells during tissue remodeling.