NHERF1 and tumor microenvironment: a new scene in invasive breast carcinoma

Concetta Saponaro, Alessandro Vagheggini, Emanuela Scarpi, Matteo Centonze, Ivana Catacchio, Ondina Popescu, Maria Irene Pastena, Francesco Giotta, Nicola Silvestris, Anita Mangia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: Tumor microenvironment (TME) includes many factors such as tumor associated inflammatory cells, vessels, and lymphocytes, as well as different signaling molecules and extracellular matrix components. These aspects can be de-regulated and consequently lead to a worsening of cancer progression. In recent years an association between the scaffolding protein Na+/H+ exchanger regulatory factor 1 (NHERF1) and tumor microenvironment changes in breast cancer (BC) has been reported.

METHODS: Subcellular NHERF1 localization, vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), its receptor VEGFR1, hypoxia inducible factor 1 alpha (HIF-1α), TWIST1 expression and microvessel density (MVD) in 183 invasive BCs were evaluated, using immunohistochemistry on tissue microarrays (TMA). Immunofluorescence was employed to explore protein interactions.

RESULTS: Cytoplasmic NHERF1(cNHERF1) expression was directly related to cytoplasmic VEGF and VEGFR1 expression (p = 0.001 and p = 0.027 respectively), and inversely to nuclear HIF-1α (p = 0.021) and TWIST1 (p = 0.001). Further, immunofluorescence revealed an involvement of tumor cells with NHERF1 positive staining in neo-vascular formation, suggesting a "mosaic" structure development of these neo-vessels. Survival analyses showed that loss of nuclear TWIST1 (nTWIST1) expression was related to a decrease of disease free survival (DFS) (p < 0.001), while nTWIST1-/mNHERF1+ presented an increased DFS with respect to nTWIST1+/mNHERF1- phenotype (p < 0.001). Subsequently, the analyses of nTWIST1+/cNHERF1+ phenotype selected a subgroup of patients with a worse DFS compared to nTWIST1-/cNHERF1- patients (p = 0.004).

CONCLUSION: Resulting data suggested a dynamic relation between NHERF1 and TME markers, and confirmed both the oncosuppressor role of membranous NHERF1 expression and the oncogene activity of cytoplasmic NHERF1.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)96
JournalJournal of Experimental and Clinical Cancer Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - May 2 2018


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