The BMP inhibitor Coco reactivates breast cancer cells at lung metastatic sites

Cell. 2012 Aug 17;150(4):764-79. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2012.06.035.


The mechanistic underpinnings of metastatic dormancy and reactivation are poorly understood. A gain-of-function cDNA screen reveals that Coco, a secreted antagonist of TGF-β ligands, induces dormant breast cancer cells to undergo reactivation in the lung. Mechanistic studies indicate that Coco exerts this effect by blocking lung-derived BMP ligands. Whereas Coco enhances the manifestation of traits associated with cancer stem cells, BMP signaling suppresses it. Coco induces a discrete gene expression signature, which is strongly associated with metastatic relapse to the lung, but not to the bone or brain in patients. Experiments in mouse models suggest that these latter organs contain niches devoid of bioactive BMP. These findings reveal that metastasis-initiating cells need to overcome organ-specific antimetastatic signals in order to undergo reactivation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bone Morphogenetic Proteins / metabolism
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Humans
  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins / metabolism*
  • Lung Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Lung Neoplasms / secondary*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Neoplasm Metastasis
  • Oligonucleotide Array Sequence Analysis


  • Bone Morphogenetic Proteins
  • DAND5 protein, human
  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins

Associated data

  • GEO/GSE28049