Fibronectin conformation regulates the proangiogenic capability of tumor-associated adipogenic stromal cells

Biochim Biophys Acta. 2013 Sep;1830(9):4314-20. doi: 10.1016/j.bbagen.2013.03.033. Epub 2013 Apr 6.


Background: Changes in fibronectin (Fn) matrix remodeling contribute to mammary tumor angiogenesis and are related to altered behavior of adipogenic stromal cells; yet, the underlying mechanisms remain unclear due in part to a lack of reductionist model systems that allow the inherent complexity of cell-derived extracellular matrices (ECMs) to be deciphered. In particular, breast cancer-associated adipogenic stromal cells not only enhance the composition, quantity, and rigidity of deposited Fn, but also partially unfold these matrices. However, the specific effect of Fn conformation on tumor angiogenesis is undefined.

Methods: Decellularized matrices and a conducting polymer device consisting of poly(3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene) doped with poly(styrenesulfonate) (PEDOT:PSS) were used to examine the effect of Fn conformation on the behavior of 3T3-L1 preadipocytes. Changes in cell adhesion and proangiogenic capability were tested via cell counting and by quantification of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) secretion, respectively. Integrin-blocking antibodies were utilized to examine varied integrin specificity as a potential mechanism.

Results: Our findings suggest that tumor-associated partial unfolding of Fn decreases adhesion while enhancing VEGF secretion by breast cancer-associated adipogenic precursor cells, and that altered integrin specificity may underlie these changes.

Conclusions and general significance: These results not only have important implications for our understanding of tumorigenesis, but also enhance knowledge of cell-ECM interactions that may be harnessed for other applications including advanced tissue engineering approaches. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled Organic Bioelectronics - Novel Applications in Biomedicine.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • 3T3-L1 Cells
  • Adipocytes / drug effects*
  • Adipocytes / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Breast Neoplasms / blood supply*
  • Breast Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology
  • Bridged Bicyclo Compounds, Heterocyclic / administration & dosage
  • Cell Adhesion / drug effects
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Extracellular Matrix / metabolism
  • Female
  • Fibronectins / metabolism*
  • Human Umbilical Vein Endothelial Cells / cytology
  • Human Umbilical Vein Endothelial Cells / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Integrins / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Neovascularization, Pathologic / metabolism
  • Neovascularization, Pathologic / pathology
  • Polymers / administration & dosage
  • Polystyrenes / administration & dosage
  • Stromal Cells / metabolism*
  • Stromal Cells / pathology*
  • Tissue Engineering / methods
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A / metabolism


  • Bridged Bicyclo Compounds, Heterocyclic
  • Fibronectins
  • Integrins
  • Polymers
  • Polystyrenes
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A
  • poly(3,4-ethylene dioxythiophene)
  • polystyrene sulfonic acid