Tumour-cell-induced endothelial cell necroptosis via death receptor 6 promotes metastasis

Nature. 2016 Aug 11;536(7615):215-8. doi: 10.1038/nature19076. Epub 2016 Aug 3.


Metastasis is the leading cause of cancer-related death in humans. It is a complex multistep process during which individual tumour cells spread primarily through the circulatory system to colonize distant organs. Once in the circulation, tumour cells remain vulnerable, and their metastatic potential largely depends on a rapid and efficient way to escape from the blood stream by passing the endothelial barrier. Evidence has been provided that tumour cell extravasation resembles leukocyte transendothelial migration. However, it remains unclear how tumour cells interact with endothelial cells during extravasation and how these processes are regulated on a molecular level. Here we show that human and murine tumour cells induce programmed necrosis (necroptosis) of endothelial cells, which promotes tumour cell extravasation and metastasis. Treatment of mice with the receptor-interacting serine/threonine-protein kinase 1 (RIPK1)-inhibitor necrostatin-1 or endothelial-cell-specific deletion of RIPK3 reduced tumour-cell-induced endothelial necroptosis, tumour cell extravasation and metastasis. In contrast, pharmacological caspase inhibition or endothelial-cell-specific loss of caspase-8 promoted these processes. We furthermore show in vitro and in vivo that tumour-cell-induced endothelial necroptosis leading to extravasation and metastasis requires amyloid precursor protein expressed by tumour cells and its receptor, death receptor 6 (DR6), on endothelial cells as the primary mediators of these effects. Our data identify a new mechanism underlying tumour cell extravasation and metastasis, and suggest endothelial DR6-mediated necroptotic signalling pathways as targets for anti-metastatic therapies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amyloid beta-Protein Precursor / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Apoptosis* / drug effects
  • Caspase 8 / genetics
  • Caspase Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Cell Line
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Endothelial Cells / metabolism*
  • Endothelial Cells / pathology*
  • Female
  • Human Umbilical Vein Endothelial Cells / metabolism
  • Human Umbilical Vein Endothelial Cells / pathology
  • Humans
  • Imidazoles / pharmacology
  • Indoles / pharmacology
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Necrosis* / drug therapy
  • Neoplasm Metastasis* / drug therapy
  • Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Receptor-Interacting Protein Serine-Threonine Kinases / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Receptor-Interacting Protein Serine-Threonine Kinases / deficiency
  • Receptors, Tumor Necrosis Factor / metabolism*
  • Transendothelial and Transepithelial Migration / drug effects


  • Amyloid beta-Protein Precursor
  • Caspase Inhibitors
  • Imidazoles
  • Indoles
  • Receptors, Tumor Necrosis Factor
  • TNFRSF21 protein, human
  • Tnfrsf21 protein, mouse
  • necrostatin-1
  • RIPK3 protein, human
  • Receptor-Interacting Protein Serine-Threonine Kinases
  • Ripk3 protein, mouse
  • Caspase 8