Identifying key mediators of cancer invasion and metastasis is crucial to the development of new and more effective therapies. We previously identified FILamin A Interacting Protein 1-Like (FILIP1L) as an important inhibitor of cell migration and invasion. FILIP1L expression was inversely correlated with the invasive potential of ovarian tumors. In our study, we established an orthotopic ovarian cancer model, wherein FILIP1L expression can be regulated in vivo. Using this model, we observed that expression of FILIP1L in ovarian cancer cells inhibited spontaneous lung metastasis. Experimental lung metastases (established via tail vein injection of cancer cells) as well as the extravasation step of metastasis were not inhibited by FILIP1L, suggesting that FILIP1L inhibits the earlier steps of metastasis such as invasion and intravasation. FILIP1L inhibited matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)-dependent invasion in vivo. MMP3, -7 and -9 were transcriptionally downregulated, and MMP9 protein expression and activity were inhibited in FILIP1L-expressing tumors. Importantly, overexpression of MMP9 compensated for the anti-invasive activity of FILIP1L. Furthermore, our studies suggest that FILIP1L regulates invasion and metastasis by inhibiting components of the WNT signaling pathway. FILIP1L expression reduced the induction of WNT target genes such as MMP3, -7 and -9, and β-catenin-directed transcriptional activity, suggesting inhibition of the canonical WNT pathway. Nuclear β-catenin, an indicator of an active canonical WNT pathway, was reduced in FILIP1L-expressing tumors. Overall, these findings suggest that FILIP1L reduces β-catenin levels, which may lead to the transcriptional downregulation of WNT target genes such as MMPs, resulting in inhibition of metastasis. Modulation of FILIP1L expression has the potential to be a target for cancer therapy.What's new?
A critical first step in cancer metastasis is invasion, the inhibition of which could lead to the development of new cancer therapies. In the present study, a previously identified inhibitor of cancer metastasis, filamin A interacting protein 1-like (FILIP1L), is shown to block early steps of metastasis, including invasion and intravasation, in a doxycycline-inducible ovarian orthotopic mouse model. Mechanistic evaluation suggests that FILIP1L inhibits metastasis through blockade of WNT signaling. The findings indicate that FILIP1L may be a target for the development of novel cancer therapeutics.