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1.  c-Src Differentially Regulates the Functions of Microtentacles and Invadopodia 
Oncogene  2010;29(48):6402-6408.
During metastasis, invading cells produce various actin-based membrane protrusions that promote directional migration and proteolysis of extracellular matrix (ECM). Observations of actin staining within thin, tubulin-based microtentacle (McTN) protrusions in suspended MDA-MB-231 tumor cells prompted an investigation of whether McTNs are structural or functional analogs of invadopodia. We show here that MDA-MB-231 cells are capable of producing invadopodia and McTNs, both of which contain F-actin. Invadopodium formation was enhanced by expression of a constitutively-active c-Src kinase, and repressed by expression of dominant negative, catalytically-inactive form of c-Src. In contrast, expression of inactive c-Src significantly increased McTN formation. Direct inhibition of c-Src with the SU6656 inhibitor compound also significantly enhanced McTN formation, but suppressed invadopodia, including the appearance of F-actin cores and phospho-cortactin foci, as well as completely blocking focal degradation of extracellular matrix. Additionally, silencing of Tks5 in Src-transformed fibroblasts blocked invadopodia without affecting McTNs. Genetic modification of c-Src activity that promoted McTN formation augmented capillary retention of circulating tumor cells in vivo and rapid re-attachment of suspended cells in vitro, even though invadopodia were strongly suppressed. These results indicate that McTNs are capable of enhancing tumor cell reattachment, even in the absence of Tks5 and active Src, and define separate cytoskeletal mechanisms and functions for McTNs and invadopodia.
PMCID: PMC4073667  PMID: 20956943
2.  SYK Allelic Loss and the Role of Syk-Regulated Genes in Breast Cancer Survival 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(2):e87610.
Heterozygotic loss of SYK, a non-receptor tyrosine kinase, gives rise to mouse mammary tumor formation where Syk protein levels are reduced by about half; loss of SYK mRNA is correlated with invasive cell behavior in in vitro models; and SYK loss has been correlated with distant metastases in patients. Here, allelic loss of the SYK gene was explored in breast ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) using fluorescence in situ hybridization and pyrosequencing, respectively, and in infiltrating ductal carcinoma (IDC) using genomic data from The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA). Allelic loss was present in a subset of DCIS cases where adjacent IDC was present. SYK copy number loss was found in about 26% of 1002 total breast cancer cases and 30% of IDC cases. Quantitative immunofluorescence revealed Syk protein to be six-fold higher in infiltrating immune cells compared with epithelial cells. This difference distorted tumor cell mRNA and protein levels in extracts. 20% of 1002 IDC cases contained elevated immune cell infiltration as estimated by elevated immune-specific mRNAs. In cases without immune cell infiltration, loss of SYK copy number was associated with a significant reduction of SYK mRNA. Here we define a 55 Gene Set consisting of Syk interacting, motility- and invasion-related genes. We found that overall survival was significantly reduced in IDC and Luminal A+B cases where copy number and mutations of these 55 genes were affected (Kaplan-Meier, Logrank test p-value 0.007141 and Logrank test p-value 0.001198, respectively). We conclude that reduction in Syk expression and contributions of genomic instability to copy number and mutations in the 55 Syk interacting genes significantly contribute to poorer overall patient survival. A closer examination of the role of Syk interacting motility and invasion genes and their prognostic and/or causative association with metastatic disease and patient outcome is warranted.
PMCID: PMC3921124  PMID: 24523870
3.  Three dimensional multiphoton imaging of fresh and whole mount developing mouse mammary glands 
BMC Cancer  2013;13:373.
The applications of multiphoton microscopy for deep tissue imaging in basic and clinical research are ever increasing, supplementing confocal imaging of the surface layers of cells in tissue. However, imaging living tissue is made difficult by the light scattering properties of the tissue, and this is extraordinarily apparent in the mouse mammary gland which contains a stroma filled with fat cells surrounding the ductal epithelium. Whole mount mammary glands stained with Carmine Alum are easily archived for later reference and readily viewed using bright field microscopy to observe branching architecture of the ductal network. Here, we report on the advantages of multiphoton imaging of whole mount mammary glands. Chief among them is that optical sectioning of the terminal end bud (TEB) and ductal epithelium allows the appreciation of abnormalities in structure that are very difficult to ascertain using either bright field imaging of the stained gland or the conventional approach of hematoxylin and eosin staining of fixed and paraffin-embedded sections. A second advantage is the detail afforded by second harmonic generation (SHG) in which collagen fiber orientation and abundance can be observed.
GFP-mouse mammary glands were imaged live or after whole mount preparation using a Zeiss LSM510/META/NLO multiphoton microscope with the purpose of obtaining high resolution images with 3D content, and evaluating any structural alterations induced by whole mount preparation. We describe a simple means for using a commercial confocal/ multiphoton microscope equipped with a Ti-Sapphire laser to simultaneously image Carmine Alum fluorescence and collagen fiber networks by SHG with laser excitation set to 860 nm. Identical terminal end buds (TEBs) were compared before and after fixation, staining, and whole mount preparation and structure of collagen networks and TEB morphologies were determined. Flexibility in excitation and emission filters was explored using the META detector for spectral emission scanning. Backward scattered or reflected SHG (SHG-B) was detected using a conventional confocal detector with maximum aperture and forward scattered or transmitted SHG (SHG-F) detected using a non-descanned detector.
We show here that the developing mammary gland is encased in a thin but dense layer of collagen fibers. Sparse collagen layers are also interspersed between stromal layers of fat cells surrounding TEBs. At the margins, TEBs approach the outer collagen layer but do not penetrate it. Abnormal mammary glands from an HAI-1 transgenic FVB mouse model were found to contain TEBs with abnormal pockets of cells forming extra lumens and zones of continuous lateral bud formation interspersed with sparse collagen fibers.
Parameters influencing live imaging and imaging of fixed unstained and Carmine Alum stained whole mounts were evaluated. Artifacts induced by light scattering of GFP and Carmine Alum signals from epithelial cells were identified in live tissue as primarily due to fat cells and in whole mount tissue as due to dense Carmine Alum staining of epithelium. Carmine Alum autofluorescence was detected at excitation wavelengths from 750 to 950 nm with a peak of emission at 623 nm (~602-656 nm). Images of Carmine Alum fluorescence differed dramatically at emission wavelengths of 565–615 nm versus 650–710 nm. In the latter, a mostly epithelial (nuclear) visualization of Carmine Alum predominates. Autofluorescence with a peak emission of 495 nm was derived from the fixed and processed tissue itself as it was present in the unstained whole mount. Contribution of autofluorescence to the image decreases with increasing laser excitation wavelengths. SHG-B versus SHG-F signals revealed collagen fibers and could be found within single fibers, or in different fibers within the same layer. These differences presumably reflected different states of collagen fiber maturation. Loss of SHG signals from layer to layer could be ascribed to artifacts rendered by light scattering from the dense TEB structures, and unless bandpass emissions were selected, contained unfiltered non-SHG fluorescence and autofluorescent emissions. Flexibility in imaging can be increased using spectral emission imaging to optimize emission bandwidths and to separate SHG-B, GFP, and Carmine Alum signals, although conventional filters were also useful.
Collagen fibril arrangement and TEB structure is well preserved during the whole mount procedure and light scattering is reduced dramatically by extracting fat resulting in improved 3D structure, particularly for SHG signals originating from collagen. In addition to providing a bright signal, Carmine Alum stained whole mount slides can be imaged retrospectively such as performed for the HAI-1 mouse gland revealing new aspects of abnormal TEB morphology. These studies demonstrated the intimate contact, but relatively sparse abundance of collagen fibrils adjacent to normal and abnormal TEBS in the developing mammary gland and the ability to obtain these high resolution details subject to the discussed limitations. Our studies demonstrated that the TEB architecture is essentially unchanged after processing.
PMCID: PMC3750743  PMID: 23919456
5.  A Novel 3D Fibril Force Assay Implicates Src in Tumor Cell Force Generation in Collagen Networks 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(3):e58138.
New insight into the biomechanics of cancer cell motility in 3D extracellular matrix (ECM) environments would significantly enhance our understanding of aggressive cancers and help identify new targets for intervention. While several methods for measuring the forces involved in cell-matrix interactions have been developed, previous to this study none have been able to measure forces in a fibrillar environment. We have developed a novel assay for simultaneously measuring cell mechanotransduction and motility in 3D fibrillar environments. The assay consists of a controlled-density fibrillar collagen gel atop a controlled-stiffness polyacrylamide (PAA) surface. Forces generated by living cells and their migration in the 3D collagen gel were measured with the 3D motion of tracer beads within the PAA layer. Here, this 3D fibril force assay is used to study the role of the invasion-associated protein kinase Src in mechanotransduction and motility. Src expression and activation are linked with proliferation, invasion, and metastasis, and have been shown to be required in 2D for invadopodia membranes to direct and mediate invasion. Breast cancer cell line MDA-MD-231 was stably transfected with GFP-tagged constitutively active Src or wild-type Src. In 3D fibrillar collagen matrices we found that, relative to wild-type Src, constitutively active Src: 1) increased the strength of cell-induced forces on the ECM, 2) did not significantly change migration speed, and 3) increased both the duration and the length, but not the number, of long membrane protrusions. Taken together, these results support the hypothesis that Src controls invasion by controlling the ability of the cell to form long lasting cellular protrusions to enable penetration through tissue barriers, in addition to its role in promoting invadopodia matrix-degrading activity.
PMCID: PMC3594227  PMID: 23536784
6.  Dynamic Membrane Remodeling at Invadopodia Differentiates Invadopodia from Podosomes 
European journal of cell biology  2010;90(2-3):172-180.
Invadopodia are specialized actin-rich protrusions of metastatic tumor and transformed cells with crucial functions in ECM degradation and invasion. Although early electron microscopy studies described invadopodia as long filament-like protrusions of the cell membrane adherent to the matrix, fluorescence microscopy studies have focused on invadopodia as actin-cortactin aggregates localized to areas of ECM degradation. The absence of a clear conceptual integration of these two descriptions of invadopodial structure has impeded understanding of the regulatory mechanisms that govern invadopodia. To determine the relationship between the membrane filaments identified by electron microscopy and the actin-cortactin aggregates of invadopodia, we applied rapid live-cell high-resolution TIRF microscopy to examine cell membrane dynamics at the cortactin core of the invadopodia of human carcinoma cells. We found that cortactin docking to the cell membrane adherent to 2D fibronectin matrix initiates invadopodium assembly associated with the formation of a invadopodial membrane process that extends from a ventral cell membrane lacuna toward the ECM. The tip of the invadopodial process flattens as it interacts with the 2D matrix, and it undergoes constant rapid ruffling and dynamic formation of filament-like protrusions as the invadopodium matures. To describe this newly discovered dynamic relationship between the actin-cortactin core and invadopodial membranes, we propose a model of the invadopodial complex. Using TIRF microscopy, we also established that – in striking contrast to the invadopodium – membrane at the podosome of a macrophage fails to form any process- or filament-like membrane protrusions. Thus, the undulation and ruffling of the invadopodial membrane together with the formation of dynamic filament-like extensions from the invadopodial cortactin core defines invadopodia as invasive superstructures that are distinct from the podosomes.
PMCID: PMC3153956  PMID: 20656375
invadopodia; podosomes; cortactin; focal adhesions; invasion
7.  The Role of the Exocyst in Matrix Metalloproteinase Secretion and Actin Dynamics during Tumor Cell Invadopodia Formation 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2009;20(16):3763-3771.
Invadopodia are actin-rich membrane protrusions formed by tumor cells that degrade the extracellular matrix for invasion. Invadopodia formation involves membrane protrusions driven by Arp2/3-mediated actin polymerization and secretion of matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) at the focal degrading sites. The exocyst mediates the tethering of post-Golgi secretory vesicles at the plasma membrane for exocytosis and has recently been implicated in regulating actin dynamics during cell migration. Here, we report that the exocyst plays a pivotal role in invadopodial activity. With RNAi knockdown of the exocyst component Exo70 or Sec8, MDA-MB-231 cells expressing constitutively active c-Src failed to form invadopodia. On the other hand, overexpression of Exo70 promoted invadopodia formation. Disrupting the exocyst function by siEXO70 or siSEC8 treatment or by expression of a dominant negative fragment of Exo70 inhibited the secretion of MMPs. We have also found that the exocyst interacts with the Arp2/3 complex in cells with high invasion potential; blocking the exocyst-Arp2/3 interaction inhibited Arp2/3-mediated actin polymerization and invadopodia formation. Together, our results suggest that the exocyst plays important roles in cell invasion by mediating the secretion of MMPs at focal degrading sites and regulating Arp2/3-mediated actin dynamics.
PMCID: PMC2777935  PMID: 19535457
8.  Tumor Suppressor Function of Syk in Human MCF10A In Vitro and Normal Mouse Mammary Epithelium In Vivo 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(10):e7445.
The normal function of Syk in epithelium of the developing or adult breast is not known, however, Syk suppresses tumor growth, invasion, and metastasis in breast cancer cells. Here, we demonstrate that in the mouse mammary gland, loss of one Syk allele profoundly increases proliferation and ductal branching and invasion of epithelial cells through the mammary fat pad during puberty. Mammary carcinomas develop by one year. Syk also suppresses proliferation and invasion in vitro. siRNA or shRNA knockdown of Syk in MCF10A breast epithelial cells dramatically increased proliferation, anchorage independent growth, cellular motility, and invasion, with formation of functional, extracellular matrix-degrading invadopodia. Morphological and gene microarray analysis following Syk knockdown revealed a loss of luminal and differentiated epithelial features with epithelial to mesenchymal transition and a gain in invadopodial cell surface markers CD44, CD49F, and MMP14. These results support the role of Syk in limiting proliferation and invasion of epithelial cells during normal morphogenesis, and emphasize the critical role of Syk as a tumor suppressor for breast cancer. The question of breast cancer risk following systemic anti-Syk therapy is raised since only partial loss of Syk was sufficient to induce mammary carcinomas.
PMCID: PMC2759536  PMID: 19829710
10.  Disruption of c-Jun Reduces Cellular Migration and Invasion through Inhibition of c-Src and Hyperactivation of ROCK II Kinase 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2008;19(4):1378-1390.
The spread of metastatic tumors to different organs is associated with poor prognosis. The metastatic process requires migration and cellular invasion. The protooncogene c-jun encodes the founding member of the activator protein-1 family and is required for cellular proliferation and DNA synthesis in response to oncogenic signals and plays an essential role in chemical carcinogenesis. The role of c-Jun in cellular invasion remains to be defined. Genetic deletion of c-Jun in transgenic mice is embryonic lethal; therefore, transgenic mice encoding a c-Jun gene flanked by LoxP sites (c-junf/f) were used. c-jun gene deletion reduced c-Src expression, hyperactivated ROCK II signaling, and reduced cellular polarity, migration, and invasiveness. c-Jun increased c-Src mRNA abundance and c-Src promoter activity involving an AP-1 site in the c-Src promoter. Transduction of c-jun−/− cells with either c-Jun or c-Src retroviral expression systems restored the defective cellular migration of c-jun−/− cells. As c-Src is a critical component of pathways regulating proliferation, survival, and metastasis, the induction of c-Src abundance, by c-Jun, provides a novel mechanism of cooperative signaling in cellular invasion.
PMCID: PMC2291431  PMID: 18216279
11.  Dopamine 5 receptor mediates Ang II type 1 receptor degradation via a ubiquitin-proteasome pathway in mice and human cells 
The Journal of Clinical Investigation  2008;118(6):2180-2189.
Hypertension is a multigenic disorder in which abnormal counterregulation between dopamine and Ang II plays a role. Recent studies suggest that this counterregulation results, at least in part, from regulation of the expression of both the antihypertensive dopamine 5 receptor (D5R) and the prohypertensive Ang II type 1 receptor (AT1R). In this report, we investigated the in vivo and in vitro interaction between these GPCRs. Disruption of the gene encoding D5R in mice increased both blood pressure and AT1R protein expression, and the increase in blood pressure was reversed by AT1R blockade. Activation of D5R increased the degradation of glycosylated AT1R in proteasomes in HEK cells and human renal proximal tubule cells heterologously and endogenously expressing human AT1R and D5R. Confocal microscopy, Förster/fluorescence resonance energy transfer microscopy, and fluorescence lifetime imaging microscopy revealed that activation of D5R initiated ubiquitination of the glycosylated AT1R at the plasma membrane. The regulated degradation of AT1R via a ubiquitin/proteasome pathway by activation of D5R provides what we believe to be a novel mechanism whereby blood pressure can be regulated by the interaction of 2 counterregulatory GPCRs. Our results therefore suggest that treatments for hypertension might be optimized by designing compounds that can target the AT1R and the D5R.
PMCID: PMC2373421  PMID: 18464932
12.  Src-Dependent Phosphorylation of ASAP1 Regulates Podosomes▿  
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2007;27(23):8271-8283.
Invadopodia are Src-induced cellular structures that are thought to mediate tumor invasion. ASAP1, an Arf GTPase-activating protein (GAP) containing Src homology 3 (SH3) and Bin, amphiphysin, and RVS161/167 (BAR) domains, is a substrate of Src that controls invadopodia. We have examined the structural requirements for ASAP1-dependent formation of invadopodia and related structures in NIH 3T3 fibroblasts called podosomes. We found that both predominant splice variants of ASAP1 (ASAP1a and ASAP1b) associated with invadopodia and podosomes. Podosomes were highly dynamic, with rapid turnover of both ASAP1 and actin. Reduction of ASAP1 levels by small interfering RNA blocked formation of invadopodia and podosomes. Podosomes were formed in NIH 3T3 fibroblasts in which endogenous ASAP1 was replaced with either recombinant ASAP1a or ASAP1b. ASAP1 mutants that lacked the Src binding site or GAP activity functioned as well as wild-type ASAP1 in the formation of podosomes. Recombinant ASAP1 lacking the BAR domain, the SH3 domain, or the Src phosphorylation site did not support podosome formation. Based on these results, we conclude that ASAP1 is a critical target of tyrosine kinase signaling involved in the regulation of podosomes and invadopodia and speculate that ASAP1 may function as a coincidence detector of simultaneous protein association through the ASAP1 SH3 domain and phosphorylation by Src.
PMCID: PMC2169185  PMID: 17893324

Results 1-12 (12)