Tryptophan-2,3-dioxygenase (TDO2), a rate-limiting enzyme in the tryptophan catabolism pathway, is induced in triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) by inflammatory signals and anchorage-independent conditions. TNBCs express extremely low levels of the miR-200 family compared with estrogen receptor-positive (ER+) breast cancer. In normal epithelial cells and ER+ breast cancers and cell lines, high levels of the family member miR-200c serve to target and repress genes involved in epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT). To identify mechanism(s) that permit TNBC to express TDO2 and other proteins not expressed in the more well-differentiated ER+ breast cancers, miRNA-200c was restored in TNBC cell lines. The data demonstrate that miR-200c targeted TDO2 directly resulting in reduced production of the immunosuppressive metabolite kynurenine. Furthermore, in addition to reversing a classic EMT signature, miR-200c repressed many genes encoding immunosuppressive factors including CD274/CD273, HMOX-1, and GDF15. Restoration of miR-200c revealed a mechanism, whereby TNBC hijacks a gene expression program reminiscent of that used by trophoblasts to suppress the maternal immune system to ensure fetal tolerance during pregnancy. IMPLICATIONS: Knowledge of the regulation of tumor-derived immunosuppressive factors will facilitate development of novel therapeutic strategies that complement current immunotherapy to reduce mortality for patients with TNBC.
©2018 American Association for Cancer Research.