Jagged1-Notch1-deployed tumor perivascular niche promotes breast cancer stem cell phenotype through Zeb1

Nat Commun. 2020 Oct 12;11(1):5129. doi: 10.1038/s41467-020-18860-4.


Zinc finger E-box binding homeobox 1 (Zeb1) has been demonstrated to participate in the acquisition of the properties of cancer stem cells (CSCs). However, it is largely unknown how signals from the tumor microenvironment (TME) contribute to aberrant Zeb1 expression. Here, we show that Zeb1 depletion suppresses stemness, colonization and the phenotypic plasticity of breast cancer. Moreover, we demonstrate that, with direct cell-cell contact, TME-derived endothelial cells provide the Notch ligand Jagged1 (Jag1) to neighboring breast CSCs, leading to Notch1-dependent upregulation of Zeb1. In turn, ectopic Zeb1 in tumor cells increases VEGFA production and reciprocally induces endothelial Jag1 in a paracrine manner. Depletion of Zeb1 disrupts this positive feedback loop in the tumor perivascular niche, which eventually lessens tumor initiation and progression in vivo and in vitro. In this work, we highlight that targeting the angiocrine Jag1-Notch1-Zeb1-VEGFA loop decreases breast cancer aggressiveness and thus enhances the efficacy of antiangiogenic therapy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Breast Neoplasms / genetics
  • Breast Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Jagged-1 Protein / genetics
  • Jagged-1 Protein / metabolism*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Neoplastic Stem Cells / metabolism*
  • Phenotype
  • Receptor, Notch1 / genetics
  • Receptor, Notch1 / metabolism*
  • Tumor Microenvironment
  • Zinc Finger E-box-Binding Homeobox 1 / genetics
  • Zinc Finger E-box-Binding Homeobox 1 / metabolism*


  • Jag1 protein, mouse
  • Jagged-1 Protein
  • Notch1 protein, mouse
  • Receptor, Notch1
  • ZEB1 protein, mouse
  • Zinc Finger E-box-Binding Homeobox 1