Protein expression changes during human triple negative breast cancer cell line progression to lymph node metastasis in a xenografted model in nude mice

Cancer Biol Ther. 2012 Sep;13(11):1123-40. doi: 10.4161/cbt.21187. Epub 2012 Jul 24.


Triple negative breast cancers (TNBC) lacking hormone receptors and HER-2 amplification are very aggressive tumors. Since relevant differences between primary tumors and metastases could arise during tumor progression as evidenced by phenotypic discordances reported for hormonal receptors or HER-2 expression, in this analysis we studied changes that occurred in our TNBC model IIB-BR-G throughout the development of IIB-BR-G-MTS6 metastasis to the lymph nodes (LN) in nude mice, using an antibody-based protein array to characterize their expression profile. We also analyzed their growth kinetics, migration, invasiveness and cytoskeleton structure in vitro and in vivo. In vitro IIB-BR-G-MTS6 cells grew slower but showed higher anchorage independent growth. In vivo IIB-BR-G-MTS6 tumors grew significantly faster and showed a 100% incidence of LN metastasis after s.c. inoculation, although no metastasis was observed for IIB-BR-G. CCL3, IL1β, CXCL1, CSF2, CSF3, IGFBP1, IL1α, IL6, IL8, CCL20, PLAUR, PlGF and VEGF were strongly upregulated in IIB-BR-G-MTS6 while CCL4, ICAM3, CXCL12, TNFRSF18, FIGF were the most downregulated proteins in the metastatic cell line. IIB-BR-G-MTS6 protein expression profile could reflect a higher NFκB activation in these cells. In vitro, IIB-BR-G displayed higher migration but IIB-BR-G-MTS6 had more elevated matrigel invasion ability. In agreement with that observation, IIB-BR-G-MTS6 had an upregulated expression of MMP1, MMP9, MMP13, PLAUR and HGF. IIB-BR-G-MTS6 tumors presented also higher local lymphatic invasion than IIB-BR-G but similar lymphatic vessel densities. VEGFC and VEGFA/B expression were higher both in vitro and in vivo for IIB-BR-G-MTS6. IIB-BR-G-MTS6 expressed more vimentin than IB-BR-G cells, which was mainly localized in the cellular extremities and both cell lines are E-cadherin negative. Our results suggest that IIB-BR-G-MTS6 cells have acquired a pronounced epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition phenotype. Protein expression changes observed between primary tumor-derived IIB-BR-G and metastatic IIB-BR-G-MTS6 TNBC cells suggest potential targets involved in the control of metastasis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Breast Neoplasms / genetics
  • Breast Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Disease Progression
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Lymphatic Metastasis
  • Mice
  • Mice, Nude
  • Neoplasm Proteins / biosynthesis*
  • Neoplasm Proteins / genetics
  • Receptor, ErbB-2 / metabolism
  • Receptors, Estrogen / metabolism
  • Receptors, Progesterone / metabolism
  • Transplantation, Heterologous
  • Vimentin / biosynthesis
  • Vimentin / genetics


  • Neoplasm Proteins
  • Receptors, Estrogen
  • Receptors, Progesterone
  • Vimentin
  • Receptor, ErbB-2