Scatter factor (SF) (also known as hepatocyte growth factor) is a plasminogen-related growth factor that induces tumor cell motility, invasion, and angiogenesis. Its receptor is a tyrosine kinase encoded by c-met, a protooncogene. Human breast cancer cells express SF and c-met in vivo; but human breast cancer cell lines do not produce SF in vitro. To determine whether SF can modulate the in vivo growth of human breast cancers within a natural mammary environment, we studied the orthotopic growth of SF- transfected (SF+) versus control (SF-) clones of MDAMB231 human mammary carcinoma cells in the mammary fat pads of athymic nude mice. SF+ clones expressed SF mRNA and produced very high titers of SF protein, whereas SF- clones did not express SF mRNA or produce detectable SF protein. Two SF+ clones (21 and 29) showed significantly increased tumor growth rates, reaching 3- to 4-fold larger primary tumor volumes and weights by time of killing (p < 0.001), as well as higher rates of axillary lymph node metastasis (p < 0.02), as compared with two SF - clones (32 and 34). In contrast, in vitro proliferation rates, two-dimensional colony formation, and soft agar colony formation were no greater in SF + than in SF-clones. We performed further studies to investigate the discrepancy between the in vivo and in vitro growth results. Tumor extracts from SF+ clone (21 + 29) tumors had 50-fold higher SF content than did SF- clone (32 + 34) tumors, confirming high-level SF expression in vivo in SF + tumors. Immunostaining of tumor sections for proliferating cell nuclear antigen revealed only a modest increase in the proportion of cycling cells in SF + versus SF- tumors (70% versus 60%, respectively). The terminal deoxytransferase-labeling index was equally low (approximately 1%) in SF+ and SF- tumors, suggesting that apoptosis was not responsible for the slower growth of SF tumors. However, SF + tumors had significantly higher tumor microvessel densities than SF- tumors (p < 0.001). Moreover, there were much higher titers of chemotactic activity for microvascular endothelial cells in cell-conditioned media and primary tumor extracts from SF+ clones as compared with SF- clones. As demonstrated using the rat cornea assay, there was more angiogenic activity in SF + tumor extracts than in SF- extracts. The increased chemotactic and angiogenic activities in SF+ tumor extracts were not explained by secondary alterations in the content of the angiogenic mediator, vascular endothelial growth factor, or the antiangiogenic glycoprotein, thrombospondin-1; and those activities were neutralized using an anti-SF monoclonal antibody. These findings suggest that SF promotes the orthotopic growth of human breast cancers, at least in part, by stimulating tumor angiogenesis.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Number of pages||15|
|State||Published - Mar 1997|
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pathology and Forensic Medicine
- Molecular Biology
- Cell Biology