Role of Rac1/WAVE2 Signaling in Mediating the Inhibitory Effects of γ-Tocotrienol on Mammary Cancer Cell Migration and Invasion

Biol Pharm Bull. 2016;39(12):1974-1982. doi: 10.1248/bpb.b16-00461.


The majority of breast cancer deaths result from the progression of this disease to a metastatic phenotype. Rac1 and Cdc42 are Rho family members that together with their downstream effectors, Wiskott-Aldrich Syndrome protein-family verprolin-homologous protein 2 (WAVE2) and Arp2/3, play an important role in cytoskeletal reorganization and the formation of membrane protrusions that promote cancer cell migration and invasion. γ-Tocotrienol, is a natural isoform within the vitamin E family of compounds that inhibits breast cancer cell growth and progression by suppressing various signaling pathways involved in mitogenic signaling and metastatic progression. Studies were conducted to examine the effects of γ-tocotrienol on Rac1/WAVE2 signaling dependent migration and invasion in highly metastatic mouse +SA and human MDA-MB-231 mammary cancer cells. Exposure to γ-tocotrienol resulted in a dose-responsive decrease in Rac1/WAVE2 signaling as characterized by a suppression in the levels of Rac1/Cdc42, phospho-Rac1/Cdc42, WAVE2, Arp2, and Arp3 expression. Additional studies also demonstrated that similar treatment with γ-tocotrienol resulted in a significant reduction in tumor cell migration and invasion. Taken together, these findings indicate that γ-tocotrienol treatment effectively inhibits Rac1/WAVE2 signaling and reduces metastatic phenotypic expression in mammary cancer cells, suggesting that γ-tocotrienol may provide some benefit as a novel therapeutic approach in the treatment of metastatic breast cancer.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Breast Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Breast Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology
  • Cell Line
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Movement / drug effects
  • Cell Survival / drug effects
  • Chromans / pharmacology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Mammary Neoplasms, Animal / drug therapy
  • Mammary Neoplasms, Animal / metabolism*
  • Mammary Neoplasms, Animal / pathology
  • Mice
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects
  • Vitamin E / analogs & derivatives*
  • Vitamin E / pharmacology
  • Wiskott-Aldrich Syndrome Protein Family / metabolism*
  • rac1 GTP-Binding Protein / metabolism*


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Chromans
  • Wiskott-Aldrich Syndrome Protein Family
  • Vitamin E
  • plastochromanol 8
  • rac1 GTP-Binding Protein