NHE1 promotes invadopodial ECM proteolysis through acidification of the peri-invadopodial space

Giovanni Busco, Rosa A. Cardone, Maria R. Greco, Antonia Bellizzi, Matilde Colella, Ester Antelmi, Maria T. Mancini, Maria E. Dell'Aquila, Valeria Casavola, Angelo Paradiso, Stephan J. Reshkin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Extracellular matrix (ECM) degradation is a critical process in tumor cell invasion and requires membrane and released proteases focalized at membrane structures called invadopodia. While extracellular acidification is important in driving tumor invasion, the structure/function mechanisms underlying this regulation are still unknown. Invadopodia are similar in structure and function to osteoclast podosomes responsible for bone degradation, and extracellular acidification is central to podosome action, suggesting that it could also be for invadopodial function. Here, utilizing a novel system for in situ zymography in native matrices, we show that the Na+/H+ exchanger (NHE1) and NHE1-generated extracellular acidification are localized at and necessary for invadopodial-dependent ECM degradation, thereby promoting tumor invasion. Stimulation with EGF increased both NHE1-dependent proton secretion and ECM degradation. Manipulation of the NHE1 expression by RNA interference or activity via either transport-deficient mutation or the specific inhibitor cariporide confirmed that NHE1 expression and activity are required for invadopodia-mediated ECM degradation. Taken together, our data show a concordance among NHE1 localization, the generation of a well-defined acidic extracellular pH in the nanospace surrounding invadopodia, and matrix-degrading activity at invadopodia of human malignant breast carcinoma cells, providing a structural basis for the role of NHE1 in invasion and identifying NHE1 as a strategic target for therapeutic intervention.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3903-3915
Number of pages13
JournalFASEB Journal
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2010


  • Breast cancer
  • MDA-MB-231
  • Metastasis
  • pHe

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Biotechnology
  • Genetics
  • Molecular Biology
  • Medicine(all)


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