Nephronectin promotes breast cancer brain metastatic colonization via its integrin-binding domains

Sci Rep. 2020 Jul 22;10(1):12237. doi: 10.1038/s41598-020-69242-1.


This study demonstrates a role for the extracellular matrix protein nephronectin (NPNT) in promoting experimental breast cancer brain metastasis, possibly through enhanced binding to- and migration through brain endothelial cells. With the introduction of more targeted breast cancer treatments, a prolonged survival has resulted during the last decade. Consequently, an increased number of patients develop metastasis in the brain, a challenging organ to treat. We recently reported that NPNT was highly expressed in primary breast cancer and associated with unfavourable prognosis. The current study addresses our hypothesis that NPNT promotes brain metastases through its integrin-binding motifs. SAGE-sequencing revealed that NPNT was significantly up-regulated in human breast cancer tissue compared to pair-matched normal breast tissue. Human brain metastatic breast cancers expressed both NPNT and its receptor, integrin α8β1. Using an open access repository; BreastMark, we found a correlation between high NPNT mRNA levels and poor prognosis for patients with the luminal B subtype. The 66cl4 mouse cell line was used for expression of wild-type and mutant NPNT, which is unable to bind α8β1. Using an in vivo model of brain metastatic colonization, 66cl4-NPNT cells showed an increased ability to form metastatic lesions compared to cells with mutant NPNT, possibly through reduced endothelial adhesion and transmigration.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Brain / pathology
  • Brain Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Brain Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Breast / metabolism
  • Breast / pathology
  • Breast Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Cell Differentiation / physiology
  • Endothelial Cells / metabolism
  • Endothelial Cells / pathology
  • Extracellular Matrix Proteins / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Integrins / metabolism*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Prognosis
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism


  • Extracellular Matrix Proteins
  • Integrins
  • RNA, Messenger
  • integrin alpha8beta1
  • nephronectin