BMP-2 Variants in Breast Epithelial to Mesenchymal Transition and Microcalcifications Origin

Manuel Scimeca, Raffaella Giocondo, Manuela Montanaro, Annarita Granaglia, Rita Bonfiglio, Virginia Tancredi, Alessandro Mauriello, Nicoletta Urbano, Orazio Schillaci, Elena Bonanno

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This study aims to investigate the possible different roles of the BMP-2 variants, cytoplasmic and nuclear variant, in both epithelial to mesenchymal transition and in microcalcifications origin in human breast cancers. To this end, the in situ expression of cytoplasmic and nuclear BMP-2 was associated with the expression of the main epithelial to mesenchymal transition biomarkers (e-cadherin and vimentin) and molecules involved in bone metabolisms (RUNX2, RANKL, SDF-1) by immunohistochemistry. In addition, the expression of cytoplasmic and nuclear BMP-2 was associated with the presence of microcalcifications. Our data showed a significant association among the number of cytoplasmic BMP-2-positive cells and the number of both vimentin (positive association) and e-cadherin (negative association) positive breast cells. Conversely, no associations were found concerning the nuclear BMP-2-positive breast cells. Surprisingly, the opposite result was obtained by analyzing the variants of BMP-2 and both the expression of RANKL and SDF-1 and the presence of microcalcifications. Specifically, the presence of microcalcifications was related to the expression of nuclear BMP-2 variant rather than the cytoplasmic one, as well as a strong association between the number of nuclear BMP-2 and the expression of the main breast osteoblast-like cells (BOLCs) biomarkers. To further corroborate these data, an in vitro experiment for demonstrating the co-expression of nBMP-2 and RANKL or vimentin or SDF-1 in breast cancer cells that acquire the capability to produce microcalcifications was developed. These investigations confirmed the association between the nBMP-2 expression and both RANKL and SDF-1. The data supports the idea that whilst cytoplasmic BMP-2 can be involved in epithelial to mesenchymal transition phenomenon, the nuclear variant is related to the essential mechanisms for the formation of breast microcalcifications. In conclusion, from these experimental and translational perspectives, the complexity of BMP-2 signaling will require a detailed understanding of the involvement of specific BMP-2 variants in breast cancers.

Original languageEnglish
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2 2020


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