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EZH2 Engages TGFβ Signaling to Promote Breast Cancer Bone Metastasis via Integrin β1-FAK Activation

By Lin Zhang, Jingkun Qu, Yutao Qi, Yu-Wen Huang, Zhifen Zhou, Ping Li, Jun Yao, Beibei Huang, Beibei Huang, Dihua Yu

Posted 14 Feb 2021
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2021.02.14.431151

Bone metastasis is a frequent complication of breast cancer, occurring in about 50-70% of breast cancer patients with late-stage disease. The lack of effective therapy suggests that the precise molecular mechanisms underlying bone metastasis are still unclear. Enhancer of zeste homolog 2 (EZH2) is considered a breast cancer oncogene and its expression is correlated with metastasis of breast cancer, but its function in bone metastasis has not been well explored. Herein we report that EZH2 promotes osteolytic metastasis of breast cancer through regulating transforming growth factor beta (TGF{beta}) signaling, a key pathway in bone metastasis. Knocking down EZH2 decreases bone metastasis incidence and outgrowth in vivo. EZH2 induces cancer cell proliferation and osteoclast maturation, when breast cancer cells are co-cultured with osteoblasts and osteoclasts together in vitro. Mechanistically, EZH2 increases transcription of ITGB1, which encodes for integrin {beta}1. Integrin {beta}1 activates focal adhesion kinase (FAK), which phosphorylates TGF{beta} receptor type I (TGF{beta}RI) at tyrosine 182, thus enhances the binding of TGF{beta}RI to TGF{beta} receptor type II (TGF{beta}RII), therefore activates Smad2 and increases parathyroid hormone-like hormone (PTHLH) expression. Clinically applicable FAK inhibitors but not EZH2 methyltransferase inhibitor effectively inhibits breast cancer bone metastasis in vivo. Overall, our data signify integrin {beta}1-FAK as a new downstream effector of EZH2 in breast cancer cells, and EZH2-integrin {beta}1-FAK axis cooperates with TGF{beta} signaling pathway to promote bone metastasis of breast cancer.

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