Role for chondroitin sulfate glycosaminoglycan in NEDD9-mediated breast cancer cell growth

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There are lines of evidence demonstrating that NEDD9 (Cas-L, HEF-1) plays a key role in the development, progression, and metastasis of breast cancer cells. We previously reported that NEDD9 plays a critical role for promoting migration and growth of MDA-MB-231. In order to further characterize the mechanisms of NEDD9-mediated cancer migration and growth, stable cells overexpressing NEDD9 were generated using HCC38 as a parental cell line which expresses low level of endogenous NEDD9. Microarray studies demonstrated that core proteins of CD44 and Serglycin were markedly upregulated in HCC38(NEDD9) cells compared to HCC38(Vector) cells, while those of Syndecan-1, Syndecan-2, and Versican were downregulated in HCC38(NEDD9). Importantly, enzymes generating chondroitin sulfate glycosaminoglycans (CS) such as CHST11, CHST15, and CSGALNACT1 were upregulated in HCC38(NEDD9) compared to HCC38(Vector). Immunofluorescence studies using specific antibody, GD3G7, confirmed the enhanced expression of CS-E subunit in HCC38(NEDD9). Immunoprecipitation and western blotting analysis demonstrated that CS-E was attached to CD44 core protein. We demonstrated that removing CS by chondroitinase ABC significantly inhibited anchorage-independent colony formation of HCC38(NEDD9) in methylcellulose. Importantly, the fact that GD3G7 significantly inhibited colony formation of HCC38(NEDD9) cells suggests that CS-E subunit plays a key role in this process. Furthermore, treatment of HCC38(NEDD9) cells with chondroitinase ABC or GD3G7 significantly inhibited mammosphere formation. Exogenous addition of CS-E enhanced colony formation and mammosphere formation of HCC38 parental and HCC38(Vector) cells. These results suggest that NEDD9 regulates the synthesis and expression of tumor associated glycocalyx structures including CS-E, which plays a key role in promoting and regulating breast cancer progression and metastasis and possibly stem cell phenotypes.

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