We recently reported that activation of Trop-2 through its cleavage at R87-T88 by ADAM10 underlies Trop-2–driven progression of colon cancer. However, the mechanism of action and pathological impact of Trop-2 in metastatic diffusion remain unexplored. Through searches for molecular determinants of cancer metastasis, we identified TROP2 as unique in its up-regulation across independent colon cancer metastasis models. Overexpression of wild-type Trop-2 in KM12SM human colon cancer cells increased liver metastasis rates in vivo in immunosuppressed mice. Metastatic growth was further enhanced by a tail-less, activated ΔcytoTrop-2 mutant, indicating the Trop-2 tail as a pivotal inhibitory signaling element. In primary tumors and metastases, transcriptome analysis showed no down-regulation of CDH1 by transcription factors for epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition, thus suggesting that the pro-metastatic activity of Trop-2 is through alternative mechanisms. Trop-2 can tightly interact with ADAM10. Here, Trop-2 bound E-cadherin and stimulated ADAM10-mediated proteolytic cleavage of E-cadherin intracellular domain. This induced detachment of E-cadherin from β-actin, and loss of cell-cell adhesion, acquisition of invasive capability, and membrane-driven activation of β-catenin signaling, which were further enhanced by the ΔcytoTrop-2 mutant. This Trop-2/E-cadherin/β-catenin program led to anti-apoptotic signaling, increased cell migration, and enhanced cancer-cell survival. In patients with colon cancer, activation of this Trop-2–centered program led to significantly reduced relapse-free and overall survival, indicating a major impact on progression to metastatic disease. Recently, the anti-Trop-2 mAb Sacituzumab govitecan-hziy was shown to be active against metastatic breast cancer. Our findings define the key relevance of Trop-2 as a target in metastatic colon cancer.
- Epithelial-mesenchymal transition
- proteolytic cleavage
- Signaling networks
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research