Hsp47 promotes cancer metastasis by enhancing collagen-dependent cancer cell-platelet interaction

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2020 Feb 18;117(7):3748-3758. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1911951117. Epub 2020 Feb 3.


Increased expression of extracellular matrix (ECM) proteins in circulating tumor cells (CTCs) suggests potential function of cancer cell-produced ECM in initiation of cancer cell colonization. Here, we showed that collagen and heat shock protein 47 (Hsp47), a chaperone facilitating collagen secretion and deposition, were highly expressed during the epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) and in CTCs. Hsp47 expression induced mesenchymal phenotypes in mammary epithelial cells (MECs), enhanced platelet recruitment, and promoted lung retention and colonization of cancer cells. Platelet depletion in vivo abolished Hsp47-induced cancer cell retention in the lung, suggesting that Hsp47 promotes cancer cell colonization by enhancing cancer cell-platelet interaction. Using rescue experiments and functional blocking antibodies, we identified type I collagen as the key mediator of Hsp47-induced cancer cell-platelet interaction. We also found that Hsp47-dependent collagen deposition and platelet recruitment facilitated cancer cell clustering and extravasation in vitro. By analyzing DNA/RNA sequencing data generated from human breast cancer tissues, we showed that gene amplification and increased expression of Hsp47 were associated with cancer metastasis. These results suggest that targeting the Hsp47/collagen axis is a promising strategy to block cancer cell-platelet interaction and cancer colonization in secondary organs.

Keywords: breast cancer; cancer metastasis; circulating tumor cell; epithelial-mesenchymal transition; extracellular matrix.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blood Platelets / metabolism*
  • Breast Neoplasms / genetics
  • Breast Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology
  • Breast Neoplasms / physiopathology
  • Collagen / metabolism*
  • Epithelial-Mesenchymal Transition
  • Extracellular Matrix / genetics
  • Extracellular Matrix / metabolism
  • Female
  • Gene Amplification
  • HSP47 Heat-Shock Proteins / genetics
  • HSP47 Heat-Shock Proteins / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Mice, SCID
  • Neoplasm Metastasis
  • Neoplastic Cells, Circulating / metabolism*


  • HSP47 Heat-Shock Proteins
  • Collagen