Transforming growth factor α (TGFα) is a potent inducer of cellular transformation, through its binding and activation of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR). Previous studies in our laboratory showed that EGFR could also be affected by the glycoprotein MUC1, which inhibits ligand-stimulated degradation of EGFR in breast epithelial cell lines. To determine the effect of Muc1 expression on TGFα/EGFR-dependent breast transformation, we crossed the WAP-TGFα transgenic mouse model of breast cancer onto a Muc1-null background. We found that the loss of Muc1 expression dramatically affects mammary gland transformation and progression. Although 100% of WAP-TGFα/Muc1+/+ mice form mammary gland tumors by 1 year, only 37% of WAP-TGFAα/Muc1-/- form tumors by this time. This difference is also associated with a delay in onset, with a doubling of onset time observed in the WAP-TGFα/Muc1-/- compared with the WAP-TGFα/Muc1+/+ mice. Analysis of signal transduction pathways revealed that activation of cyclin D1 expression is significantly suppressed in tumors derived from WAP-TGFα/Muc1-/- animals compared with those expressing Muc1. The loss of Muc1 expression also results in a significant inhibition in the formation of hyperplastic lesions during tumor progression. On the C57Bl/6 inbred background, pulmonary lesions were observed in 28 of 29 WAP-TGFα/Muc1+/+ animals (including one metastatic pulmonary adenocarcinoma and multiple perivascular lymphomas), although none were detected in the WAP-TGFα/Muc1-/- animals. Together, these data indicate that Muc1 is an important modulator of TGFα-dependent tumor progression.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research