Enpp1: a potential facilitator of breast cancer bone metastasis

PLoS One. 2013 Jul 5;8(7):e66752. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0066752. Print 2013.


Bone is the most common site of breast cancer metastasis and once established, it is frequently incurable. Critical to our ability to prevent and treat bone metastasis is the identification of the key factors mediating its establishment and understanding their biological function. To address this issue we previously carried out an in vivo selection process to isolate murine mammary tumor sublines possessing an enhanced ability to colonize the bone. A comparison of gene expression between parental cells and sublines by genome-wide cDNA microarray analysis revealed several potential mediators of bone metastasis, including the pyrophosphate-generating ectoenzyme Enpp1. By qRT-PCR and Western analysis we found that expression of Enpp1 was elevated in human breast cancer cell lines known to produce bone metastasis in animal models compared to non-metastatic and normal mammary epithelial cell lines. Further, in clinical specimens, levels of Enpp1 were significantly elevated in human primary breast tumors relative to normal mammary epithelium, with highest levels observed in breast-bone metastasis as determined by qRT-PCR and immunohistochemical analysis. To examine the potential role of Enpp1 in the development of bone metastasis, Enpp1 expression was stably increased in the breast cancer cell line MDA-MB-231 and the ability to colonize the bone following intracardiac and direct intratibial injection of athymic nude mice was determined. By both routes of administration, increased expression of Enpp1 enhanced the ability of MDA-MB-231 cells to form tumors in the bone relative to cells expressing vector alone, as determined by digital radiography and histological analysis. Taken together, these data suggest a potential role for Enpp1 in the development of breast cancer bone metastasis.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bone Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging
  • Bone Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Bone Neoplasms / secondary*
  • Breast Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Enzyme Activation
  • Female
  • Gene Expression
  • Humans
  • Mammary Neoplasms, Experimental
  • Mice
  • Phosphoric Diester Hydrolases / genetics
  • Phosphoric Diester Hydrolases / metabolism*
  • Pyrophosphatases / genetics
  • Pyrophosphatases / metabolism*
  • Radiography


  • Phosphoric Diester Hydrolases
  • ectonucleotide pyrophosphatase phosphodiesterase 1
  • Pyrophosphatases

Grant support

These authors have no support or funding to report.