ITIH5 induces a shift in TGF-β superfamily signaling involving Endoglin and reduces risk for breast cancer metastasis and tumor death

Mol Carcinog. 2018 Feb;57(2):167-181. doi: 10.1002/mc.22742. Epub 2017 Oct 30.


ITIH5 has been proposed being a novel tumor suppressor in various tumor entities including breast cancer. Recently, ITIH5 was furthermore identified as metastasis suppressor gene in pancreatic carcinoma. In this study we aimed to specify the impact of ITIH5 on metastasis in breast cancer. Therefore, DNA methylation of ITIH5 promoter regions was assessed in breast cancer metastases using the TCGA portal and methylation-specific PCR (MSP). We reveal that the ITIH5 upstream promoter region is particularly responsible for ITIH5 gene inactivation predicting shorter survival of patients. Notably, methylation of this upstream ITIH5 promoter region was associated with disease progression, for example, abundantly found in distant metastases. In vitro, stably ITIH5-overexpressing MDA-MB-231 breast cancer clones were used to analyze cell invasion and to identify novel ITIH5-downstream targets. Indeed, ITIH5 re-expression suppresses invasive growth of MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cells while modulating expression of genes involved in metastasis including Endoglin (ENG), an accessory TGF-β receptor, which was furthermore co-expressed with ITIH5 in primary breast tumors. By performing in vitro stimulation of TGF-β signaling using TGF-β1 and BMP-2 we show that ITIH5 triggered a TGF-β superfamily signaling switch contributing to downregulation of targets like Id1, known to endorse metastasis. Moreover, ITIH5 predicts longer overall survival (OS) only in those breast tumors that feature high ENG expression or inversely regulated ID1 suggesting a clinical and functional impact of an ITIH5-ENG axis for breast cancer progression. Hence, we provide evidence that ITIH5 may represent a novel modulator of TGF-β superfamily signaling involved in suppressing breast cancer metastasis.

Keywords: Endoglin/ENG; ITIH5; Id1; TGF-β superfamily signaling; breast cancer; metastasis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Breast Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • DNA Methylation / genetics
  • Down-Regulation / genetics
  • Endoglin / genetics*
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic / genetics
  • Gene Silencing / physiology
  • Genes, Tumor Suppressor / physiology
  • Humans
  • Neoplasm Invasiveness / genetics
  • Neoplasm Invasiveness / pathology
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic / genetics
  • Proteinase Inhibitory Proteins, Secretory / genetics*
  • Risk
  • Signal Transduction / genetics*
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta / genetics*


  • Endoglin
  • ITIH5 protein, human
  • Proteinase Inhibitory Proteins, Secretory
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta