Mesenchymal Stem Cell-Induced DDR2 Mediates Stromal-Breast Cancer Interactions and Metastasis Growth

Cell Rep. 2017 Jan 31;18(5):1215-1228. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2016.12.079.


Increased collagen deposition by breast cancer (BC)-associated mesenchymal stem/multipotent stromal cells (MSC) promotes metastasis, but the mechanisms are unknown. Here, we report that the collagen receptor discoidin domain receptor 2 (DDR2) is essential for stromal-BC communication. In human BC metastasis, DDR2 is concordantly upregulated in metastatic cancer and multipotent mesenchymal stromal cells. In MSCs isolated from human BC metastasis, DDR2 maintains a fibroblastic phenotype with collagen deposition and induces pathological activation of DDR2 signaling in BC cells. Loss of DDR2 in MSCs impairs their ability to promote DDR2 phosphorylation in BC cells, as well as BC cell alignment, migration, and metastasis. Female ddr2-deficient mice homozygous for the slie mutation show inefficient spontaneous BC metastasis. These results point to a role for mesenchymal stem cell DDR2 in metastasis and suggest a therapeutic approach for metastatic BC.

Keywords: DDR2; EZH2; breast cancer; collagen; discoidin domain receptor; mesenchymal stem cell; metastasis; microenvironment; phosphorylated DDR2; tumor stroma.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Breast Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Movement / physiology
  • Cell Proliferation / physiology*
  • Collagen / metabolism
  • Discoidin Domain Receptor 2 / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Fibroblasts / metabolism
  • Fibroblasts / pathology
  • Humans
  • MCF-7 Cells
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells / metabolism*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Neoplasm Metastasis / pathology*
  • Phosphorylation / physiology
  • Receptors, Collagen / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction / physiology


  • Receptors, Collagen
  • Collagen
  • DDR2 protein, human
  • Discoidin Domain Receptor 2