A dual phenotype of MDA-MB-468 cancer cells reveals mutual regulation of tensin3 and adhesion plasticity

J Cell Sci. 2017 Jul 1;130(13):2172-2184. doi: 10.1242/jcs.200899. Epub 2017 May 17.


A change regarding the extent of adhesion - hereafter referred to as adhesion plasticity - between adhesive and less-adhesive states of mammalian cells is important for their behavior. To investigate adhesion plasticity, we have selected a stable isogenic subpopulation of human MDA-MB-468 breast carcinoma cells growing in suspension. These suspension cells are unable to re-adhere to various matrices or to contract three-dimensional collagen lattices. By using transcriptome analysis, we identified the focal adhesion protein tensin3 (Tns3) as a determinant of adhesion plasticity. Tns3 is strongly reduced at mRNA and protein levels in suspension cells. Furthermore, by transiently challenging breast cancer cells to grow under non-adherent conditions markedly reduces Tns3 protein expression, which is regained upon re-adhesion. Stable knockdown of Tns3 in parental MDA-MB-468 cells results in defective adhesion, spreading and migration. Tns3-knockdown cells display impaired structure and dynamics of focal adhesion complexes as determined by immunostaining. Restoration of Tns3 protein expression in suspension cells partially rescues adhesion and focal contact composition. Our work identifies Tns3 as a crucial focal adhesion component regulated by, and functionally contributing to, the switch between adhesive and non-adhesive states in MDA-MB-468 cancer cells.

Keywords: Actin; Breast cancer; Cell−matrix adhesion; Migration; Tensin3.

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers, Tumor / genetics*
  • Breast Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology
  • Cell Adhesion / genetics*
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Movement / genetics
  • Female
  • Focal Adhesions / genetics
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic / genetics
  • Gene Knockdown Techniques
  • Humans
  • Tensins / genetics*


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • TNS3 protein, human
  • Tensins