Much attention has focused upon the Rho-family of GTPases, which play fundamental roles in actin remodeling and often exhibit enhanced expression and/or activation in human cancers. However, there is a fundamental gap in understanding how key downstream effecter proteins propagate Rho signaling in cancer cells. The long-term goal of these studies is understand the molecular and cellular mechanisms driving rearrangements of the cortical actin cytoskeleton at the leading edge of invasive cancer cells. The objective of this application is to define at the basic molecular and cellular level the role of the Rho effecter mammalian Diaphanous-related formin (mDia2) and its regulator Diaphanous-interacting protein (DIP) in breast cancer cell migration in three-dimensional (3D) matrices both in vitro and in vivo. Perturbation of mDia2 activity via DIP induces a rounded cellular morphology and membrane blebbing. Membrane blebbing is a physiological process that promotes amoeboid cell motility (ACM). ACM is distinct from the mesenchymal-type of cell motility involving focal adhesions and matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs);ACM is a specialized mode of cancer cell migration and is proposed to play an essential role in metastasis. The central hypothesis is that DIP and mDia2 control changes in cortical actin assembly associated with an amoeboid transition during 3D cancer cell migration. The rationale for the proposed research is that therapeutics targeting mesenchymal-type cell migration have largely failed in the clinic for treating breast and other cancers, suggesting that cells can also utilize protease-independent mechanisms for in vivo migration;therefore, multiple modes of cell migration must be targeted to effectively block metastasis. The proposed research is relevant to NIH's mission pertaining to developing fundamental knowledge to potentially help reduce the burdens of human disability. We will pursue three specific aims: 1. To determine the spatial and temporal regulation of mDia2-associated proteins in blebbing cancer cells in 2D matrices;2;To evaluate the requirement for the DIP/mDia2 node for driving tumor cell adhesion, migration and invasion in vitro;and 3. To determine the functional requirement for mDia2 in breast tumor growth, invasion and metastasis in vivo. To achieve this, Tet-inducible MDA-MB-231 cells, a highly invasive adenocarcinoma cell line, will be developed expressing wild-type (wt) or mutant DIP and/or mDia2 fluorescent fusion proteins, or DIP- or mDia2-directed miRNA.
In Aims 1 and 2, quantitative live cell confocal, FRET and TIRF imaging will test the requirement for and spatial/temporal regulation of mDia2 and DIP in migrating breast cancer cells in 2- and 3D matrices.
In Aim 3, a mammary fat pad mouse model will assess tumorigenesis/metastasis by multiple platform analyses utilizing histological detection and 3D optical imaging of tumors by whole animal imaging. The proposed research is significant as understanding the molecular basis of amoeboid motility will lend novel insight into mechanisms controlling cancer cell migration and may highlight critically needed alternative therapeutic targets for metastatic disease.

Public Health Relevance

A thorough understanding of cell migration and invasion is essential for progress in diagnosis and therapy of metastasis and other disease states in which cell migration or invasion is centrally involved. Moreover, understanding the dynamic regulation of the cortical cytoskeleton at the cell's leading edge, whether in the context of a migrating embryonic fibroblast, an advancing growth cone in a regenerating axon or a cancer cell spawned by metastatic malignancy, is a major goal in cell biology with widespread implications in the study of disease and development. We anticipate that our experiments will shed light on basic and conserved mechanisms of cytoskeletal remodeling during various behaviors in diverse cell types.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Cancer Institute (NCI)
Research Project (R01)
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Tumor Progression and Metastasis Study Section (TPM)
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Woodhouse, Elizabeth
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University of Toledo
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