Active Fraction from Embryo Fish Extracts Induces Reversion of the Malignant Invasive Phenotype in Breast Cancer through Down-regulation of TCTP and Modulation of E-cadherin/β-catenin Pathway

Int J Mol Sci. 2019 Apr 30;20(9):2151. doi: 10.3390/ijms20092151.


Some yet unidentified factors released by both oocyte and embryonic microenvironments demonstrated to be non-permissive for tumor development and display the remarkable ability to foster cell/tissue reprogramming, thus ultimately reversing the malignant phenotype. In the present study we observed how molecular factors extracted from Zebrafish embryos during specific developmental phases (20 somites) significantly antagonize proliferation of breast cancer cells, while reversing a number of prominent aspects of malignancy. Embryo extracts reduce cell proliferation, enhance apoptosis, and dramatically inhibit both invasiveness and migrating capabilities of cancer cells. Counteracting the invasive phenotype is a relevant issue in controlling tumor spreading and metastasis. Moreover, such effect is not limited to cancerous cells as embryo extracts were also effective in inhibiting migration and invasiveness displayed by normal breast cells undergoing epithelial-mesenchymal transition upon TGF-β1 stimulation. The reversion program involves the modulation of E-cadherin/β-catenin pathway, cytoskeleton remodeling with dramatic reduction in vinculin, as well as downregulation of TCTP and the concomitant increase in p53 levels. Our findings highlight that-contrary to the prevailing current "dogma", which posits that neoplastic cells are irreversibly "committed"-the malignant phenotype can ultimately be "reversed", at least partially, in response to environmental morphogenetic influences.

Keywords: E-cadherin/β-catenin; Embryo fish extract; TCTP; Tumor Reversion; cytoskeleton; p53.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Apoptosis / drug effects
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / metabolism
  • Breast Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Cadherins / metabolism
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Movement / drug effects
  • Down-Regulation
  • Embryo, Nonmammalian / chemistry*
  • Humans
  • Phenotype
  • Tissue Extracts / pharmacology*
  • Tumor Protein, Translationally-Controlled 1
  • Zebrafish
  • beta Catenin / metabolism


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Cadherins
  • TPT1 protein, human
  • Tissue Extracts
  • Tumor Protein, Translationally-Controlled 1
  • beta Catenin