Bone metastasis phenotype and growth undergo regulation by micro-environment stimuli: Efficacy of early therapy with HGF or TGFβ1-type I receptor blockade

Paola Bendinelli, Paola Maroni, Valentina Dall’olio, Emanuela Matteucci, Maria Alfonsina Desiderio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) and transforming growth factor β1 (TGFβ1) are biological stimuli of the micro-environment which affect bone metastasis phenotype through transcription factors, but their influence on the growth is scarcely known. In a xenograft model prepared with 1833 bone metastatic cells, derived from breast carcinoma cells, we evaluated mice survival and Twist and Snail expression and localization after competitive inhibition of HGF with NK4, or after blockade of TGFβ1-type I receptor (RI) with SB431542: in the latter condition HGF was also measured. To explain the in vivo data, in 1833 cells treated with SB431542 plus TGFβ1 we measured HGF formation and the transduction pathway involved. Altogether, HGF seemed relevant for bone-metastatic growth, being hampered by NK4 treatment, which decreased Twist more than Snail in the metastasis bulk. TGFβ1-RI blockade enhanced HGF in metastasis and adjacent bone marrow, while reducing prevalently Snail expression at the front and bulk of bone metastasis. The HGF accumulation in 1833 cells depended on an auxiliary signaling pathway, triggered by TGFβ1 under SB431542, which interfered in the transcription of HGF activator inhibitor type 1 (HAI-1) downstream of TGFβ-activated kinase 1 (TAK1): HGF stimulated Twist transactivation. In conclusion, the impairment of initial outgrowth with NK4 seemed therapeutically promising more than SB431542 chemotherapy; a functional correlation between Twist and Snail in bone metastasis seemed to be influenced by the biological stimuli of the micro-environment, and the targeting of these phenotype biomarkers might inhibit metastasis plasticity and colonization, even if it would be necessary to consider the changes of HGF levels in bone metastases undergoing TGFβ1-RI blockade.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberE2520
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - May 2 2019


  • Epithelial mesenchymal transition
  • HAI-1
  • Hepatocyte growth factor
  • HGF
  • Mesenchymal epithelial transition
  • Snail
  • TGFβ1
  • Transforming growth factor β1
  • Twist

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Molecular Biology
  • Spectroscopy
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Inorganic Chemistry


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