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Keywords:

  • galectin-3;
  • breast cancer;
  • MMPs;
  • cleavage;
  • angiogenesis

Abstract

Galectin-3 cleavage is related to progression of human breast and prostate cancer and is partly responsible for tumor growth, angiogenesis and apoptosis resistance in mouse models. A functional polymorphism in galectin-3 gene, determining its susceptibility to cleavage by matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs)-2/-9 is related to racial disparity in breast cancer incidence in Asian and Caucasian women. The purpose of our study is to evaluate (i) if cleavage of galectin-3 could be related to angiogenesis during the progression of human breast cancer, (ii) the role of cleaved galectin-3 in induction of angiogenesis and (iii) determination of the galectin-3 domain responsible for induction of angiogenic response. Galectin-3 null breast cancer cells BT-459 were transfected with either cleavable full-length galectin-3 or its fragmented peptides. Chemotaxis, chemoinvasion, heterotypic aggregation, epithelial-endothelial cell interactions and angiogenesis were compared to noncleavable galectin-3. BT-549-H64 cells harboring cleavable galectin-3 exhibited increased chemotaxis, invasion and interactions with endothelial cells resulting in angiogenesis and 3D morphogenesis compared to BT-549-P64 cells harboring noncleavable galectin-3. BT-549-H64 cells induced increased migration and phosphorylation of focal adhesion kinase in migrating endothelial cells. Endothelial cells cocultured with BT-549 cells transfected with galectin-3 peptides indicate that amino acids 1–62 and 33–250 stimulate migration and morphogenesis of endothelial cells. Immunohistochemical analysis of blood vessel density and galectin-3 cleavage in a breast cancer progression tissue array support the in vitro findings. We conclude that the cleavage of the N terminus of galectin-3 followed by its release in the tumor microenvironment in part leads to breast cancer angiogenesis and progression.