The transcription factor Runx2 is highly expressed in breast cancer cells compared with mammary epithelial cells and contributes to metastasis. Here we directly show that Runx2 expression promotes a tumor cell phenotype of mammary acini in three-dimensional culture. Human mammary epithelial cells (MCF-10A) form polarized, growth-arrested, acini-like structures with glandular architecture. The ectopic expression of Runx2 disrupts acini formation, and electron microscopic ultrastructural analysis revealed the absence of lumens. Characterization of the disrupted acini structures showed increased cell proliferation (Ki-67 positive cells), decreased apoptosis (Bcl-2 induction), and loss of basement membrane formation (absence of β4 integrin expression). In complementary experiments, inhibition of Runx2 function in metastatic MDA-MB-231breas t cancer cells by stable expression of either short hairpin RNA-Runx2 or a mutant Runx2 deficient in subnuclear targeting resulted in reversion of acini to more normal structures and reduced tumor growth in vivo. These novel findings provide direct mechanistic evidence for the biological activity of Runx2, dependent on its subnuclear localization, in promoting early events of breast cancer progression and suggest a molecular therapeutic target.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research