Depletion of CCN1/CYR61 reduces triple-negative/basal-like breast cancer aggressiveness

Am J Cancer Res. 2022 Feb 15;12(2):839-851. eCollection 2022.


Triple-negative/basal-like breast cancer (BC) is characterized by aggressive biological features, which allow relapse and metastatic spread to occur more frequently than in hormone receptor-positive (luminal) subtypes. The molecular complexity of triple-negative/basal-like BC poses major challenges for the implementation of targeted therapies, and chemotherapy remains the standard approach at all stages. The matricellular protein cysteine-rich angiogenic inducer 61 (CCN1/CYR61) is associated with aggressive metastatic phenotypes and poor prognosis in BC, but it is unclear whether anti-CCN1 approaches can be successfully applied in triple-negative/basal-like BC. Herein, we first characterized the prevalence of CNN1 expression in matched samples of primary tumors and metastatic relapse in a series of patients with BC. We then investigated the biological effect of CCN1 depletion on tumorigenic traits in vitro and in vivo using archetypal TNBC cell lines. Immunohistochemical analyses of tissue microarrays revealed a significant increase of the highest CCN1 score in recurrent tissues of triple-negative/basal-like BC tumors. Stable silencing of CCN1 in triple-negative/basal-like BC cells promoted a marked reduction in the expression of the CCN1 integrin receptor αvβ3, inhibited anchorage-dependent cell growth, reduced clonogenicity, and impaired migration capacity. In an orthotopic model of triple-negative/basal-like BC, silencing of CCN1 notably reduced tumor burden, which was accompanied by decreased microvessel density and concurrent induction of the luminal epithelial marker E-cadherin. Thus, CNN1/CYR61-targeting strategies might have therapeutic value in suppressing the biological aggressiveness of triple-negative/basal-like BC.

Keywords: CCN1; basal-like; breast cancer; integrins; metastasis; triple-negative.