Disrupting Na⁺, HCO₃⁻-cotransporter NBCn1 (Slc4a7) delays murine breast cancer development

Oncogene. 2016 Apr 21;35(16):2112-22. doi: 10.1038/onc.2015.273. Epub 2015 Jul 27.


Increased metabolism and insufficient blood supply cause acidic waste product accumulation in solid cancers. During carcinogenesis, cellular acid extrusion is upregulated but the underlying molecular mechanisms and their consequences for cancer growth and progression have not been established. Genome-wide association studies have indicated a possible link between the Na⁺, HCO₃⁻-cotransporter NBCn1 (SLC4A7) and breast cancer. We tested the functional consequences of NBCn1 knockout (KO) for breast cancer development. NBCn1 protein expression increased 2.5-fold during breast carcinogenesis and was responsible for the increased net acid extrusion and alkaline intracellular pH of breast cancer compared with normal breast tissue. Genetic disruption of NBCn1 delayed breast cancer development: tumor latency was ~50% increased while tumor growth rate was ~65% reduced in NBCn1 KO compared with wild-type (WT) mice. Breast cancer histopathology in NBCn1 KO mice differed from that in WT mice and included less aggressive tumor types. The extracellular tumor microenvironment in NBCn1 KO mice contained higher concentrations of glucose and lower concentrations of lactate than that in WT mice. Independently of NBCn1 genotype, the cleaved fraction of poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP)-1 and expression of monocarboxylate transporter (MCT)1 increased while phosphorylation of Akt and ERK1 decreased as functions of tumor volume. Cell proliferation, evaluated from Ki-67 and phospho-histone H₃staining, was ~60% lower in breast cancer of NBCn1 KO than that of WT mice when corrected for variations in tumor size. We conclude that NBCn1 facilitates acid extrusion from breast cancer tissue, maintains the alkaline intracellular environment and promotes aggressive cancer development and growth.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Female
  • Glycolysis
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Mammary Neoplasms, Experimental / genetics
  • Mammary Neoplasms, Experimental / metabolism
  • Mammary Neoplasms, Experimental / pathology*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Sodium-Bicarbonate Symporters / genetics
  • Sodium-Bicarbonate Symporters / metabolism*


  • Slc4a7 protein, mouse
  • Sodium-Bicarbonate Symporters