Breast cancers that are triple negative for estrogen receptor, progesterone receptor, and Her2 (thereafter referred as TNBC) account for 15-20% of breast carcinomas and are notoriously aggressive, yet there is no targeted therapy against these malignancies. Basal-like (BLBC) and claudin-low (CLBC) are the two major subtypes of TNBC. CLBCs show characteristic of epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) and are thought to originate from mammary stem cells (MaSC). Notch is a powerful regulator for stem cells as well as EMT in many tissues including the mammary gland. Most recently we have revealed that Lunatic Fringe (Lfng), one of the mammalian Fringes that modify Notch receptors and modulate Notch activation, exerts tumor suppressor function in MaSC and luminal progenitor cells. Interestingly, while Lfng expression is lowest in BLBC among various subtypes of human breast cancer, another mammalian Fringe, Manic Fringe (Mfng), shows highest expression in CLBC. Thus Fringes may differentially regulate Notch activation in different cell types of mammary epithelial hierarchy, and genetic alterations of Fringes may cause dysregulation of Notch signaling in different cells of origin, ultimately leading to different subtypes of breast cancer. While Lfng suppresses BLBC, Mfng may facilitate CLBC initiation and/or progression. Indeed, our preliminary analysis in a CLBC cell line suggests that Mfng enhances Notch4 signaling, which has been shown to regulate breast cancer stem cell activity. In this proposal, we plan to investigate Mfng roles in CLBC with the following Specific Aims: 1) Define Mfng functions using breast cancer cell lines. We will knockdown Mfng in CLBC cell lines and overexpress Mfng in non-CLBC cell lines to test for effects on Notch activation as well as EMT, cancer stem cell enrichment and its tumor initiating and metastatic capacity. 2) Identify potential downstream targets of Mfng in CLBC. We intend to perform microarray gene expression analysis in stable cell lines with Mfng knockdown or overexpression (from Aim 1), and to examine the expression of candidate genes in CLBC tissues. 3) Validate Mfng roles in CLBC mouse models. We will breed the Mfng null mice into CLBC mouse models to determine whether loss of Mfng suppresses CLBC tumor formation. We hope to obtain data to demonstrate that Mfng promotes CLBC initiation and/or progression. As a """"""""druggable"""""""" enzyme, Mfng could be an ideal CLBC target since it affects specific cell types rather than broad impact from overall inhibition of Notch signaling. Furthermore, understanding the unique biology of CLBC and specific roles of Mfng-modulated Notch activation in CLBC will shed insight on cancer stem cell, which is thought to initiate recurrence and metastasis.

Public Health Relevance

Despite advances in breast cancer treatment, triple negative breast cancer (TNBC) remains a major public health problem due to frequent recurrence and lack of effective therapies. In this proposal we intend to investigate the roles of a putative oncogene in TNBC pathogenesis using established breast cancer cell lines and mouse models. The proposed study may provide insights into cancer recurrence and spreading, and may lead to targeted therapy for TNBC.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Cancer Institute (NCI)
Exploratory/Developmental Grants (R21)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZCA1-SRLB-C (J1))
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Watson, Joanna M
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University of Mississippi Medical Center
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Chung, Wen-Cheng; Zhang, Shubing; Challagundla, Lavanya et al. (2017) Lunatic Fringe and p53 Cooperatively Suppress Mesenchymal Stem-Like Breast Cancer. Neoplasia 19:885-895
Zhang, S; Chung, W-C; Xu, K (2016) Lunatic Fringe is a potent tumor suppressor in Kras-initiated pancreatic cancer. Oncogene 35:2485-95
Zhang, Shubing; Chung, Wen-Cheng; Wu, Guanming et al. (2015) Manic fringe promotes a claudin-low breast cancer phenotype through notch-mediated PIK3CG induction. Cancer Res 75:1936-43
Zhang, Shubing; Chung, Wen-cheng; Wu, Guanming et al. (2014) Tumor-suppressive activity of Lunatic Fringe in prostate through differential modulation of Notch receptor activation. Neoplasia 16:158-67
Zhang, Shubing; Chung, Wen-cheng; Miele, Lucio et al. (2014) Targeting Met and Notch in the Lfng-deficient, Met-amplified triple-negative breast cancer. Cancer Biol Ther 15:633-42