Astrocytic laminin-211 drives disseminated breast tumor cell dormancy in brain

Nat Cancer. 2022 Jan;3(1):25-42. doi: 10.1038/s43018-021-00297-3. Epub 2021 Dec 24.


Although dormancy is thought to play a key role in the metastasis of breast tumor cells to the brain, our knowledge of the molecular mechanisms regulating disseminated tumor cell (DTC) dormancy in this organ is limited. Here using serial intravital imaging of dormant and metastatic triple-negative breast cancer lines, we identify escape from the single-cell or micrometastatic state as the rate-limiting step towards brain metastasis. We show that every DTC occupies a vascular niche, with quiescent DTCs residing on astrocyte endfeet. At these sites, astrocyte-deposited laminin-211 drives DTC quiescence by inducing the dystroglycan receptor to associate with yes-associated protein, thereby sequestering it from the nucleus and preventing its prometastatic functions. These findings identify a brain-specific mechanism of DTC dormancy and highlight the need for a more thorough understanding of tumor dormancy to develop therapeutic approaches that prevent brain metastasis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Astrocytes / metabolism
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Brain Neoplasms*
  • Breast Neoplasms* / drug therapy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Laminin / metabolism
  • Tumor Microenvironment


  • Laminin