Sarcoma Cells Secrete Hypoxia-Modified Collagen VI to Weaken the Lung Endothelial Barrier and Promote Metastasis

Cancer Res. 2024 Apr 1;84(7):977-993. doi: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-23-0910.


Intratumoral hypoxia correlates with metastasis and poor survival in patients with sarcoma. Using an impedance sensing assay and a zebrafish intravital microinjection model, we demonstrated here that the hypoxia-inducible collagen-modifying enzyme lysyl hydroxylase PLOD2 and its substrate collagen type VI (COLVI) weaken the lung endothelial barrier and promote transendothelial migration. Mechanistically, hypoxia-induced PLOD2 in sarcoma cells modified COLVI, which was then secreted into the vasculature. Upon reaching the apical surface of lung endothelial cells, modified COLVI from tumor cells activated integrin β1 (ITGβ1). Furthermore, activated ITGβ1 colocalized with Kindlin2, initiating their interaction with F-actin and prompting its polymerization. Polymerized F-actin disrupted endothelial adherens junctions and induced barrier dysfunction. Consistently, modified and secreted COLVI was required for the late stages of lung metastasis in vivo. Analysis of patient gene expression and survival data from The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) revealed an association between the expression of both PLOD2 and COLVI and patient survival. Furthermore, high levels of COLVI were detected in surgically resected sarcoma metastases from patient lungs and in the blood of tumor-bearing mice. Together, these data identify a mechanism of sarcoma lung metastasis, revealing opportunities for therapeutic intervention.

Significance: Collagen type VI modified by hypoxia-induced PLOD2 is secreted by sarcoma cells and binds to integrin β1 on endothelial cells to induce barrier dysfunction, which promotes sarcoma vascular dissemination and metastasis.

MeSH terms

  • Actins
  • Animals
  • Collagen Type VI / genetics
  • Collagen Type VI / metabolism
  • Endothelial Cells / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Hypoxia
  • Integrin beta1
  • Lung / pathology
  • Lung Neoplasms*
  • Mice
  • Sarcoma* / metabolism
  • Zebrafish / metabolism


  • Collagen Type VI
  • Actins
  • Integrin beta1