Metastasis-specific gene expression in autochthonous and allograft mouse mammary tumor models: Stratification and identification of targetable signatures

Christina Ross, Karol Szczepanek, Maxwell Lee, Howard Yang, Cody J. Peer, Jessica Kindrick, Priya Shankarappa, Zhi Wei Lin, Jack D. Sanford, William D. Figg, Kent W. Hunter*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Breast cancer metastasis is a leading cause of cancer-related death of women in the United States. A hurdle in advancing metastasis-targeted intervention is the phenotypic heterogeneity between primary and secondary lesions. To identify metastasis-specific gene expression profiles we performed RNA-sequencing of breast cancer mouse models; analyzing metastases from models of various drivers and routes. We contrasted the models and identified common, targetable signatures. Allograft models exhibited more mesenchymal-like gene expression than genetically engineered mouse models (GEMM), and primary culturing of GEMM-derived metastatic tissue induced mesenchymal-like gene expression. In addition, metastasis-specific transcriptomes differed between tail vein and orthotopic injection of the same cell line. Gene expression common to models of spontaneous metastasis included sildenafil response and nicotine degradation pathways. Strikingly, in vivo sildenafil treatment significantly reduced metastasis by 54%, while nicotine significantly increased metastasis by 46%. These data suggest that (i) actionable metastasis-specific pathways can be readily identified, (ii) already available drugs may have great potential to alleviate metastatic incidence, and (iii) metastasis may be influenced greatly by lifestyle choices such as the choice to consume nicotine products. In summary, while mouse models of breast cancer metastasis vary in ways that must not be ignored, there are shared features that can be identified and potentially targeted therapeutically. Implications: The data we present here exposes critical variances betweenpreclinicalmodelsofmetastaticbreastcancerandidentifies targetable pathways integral to metastatic spread. Visual Overview: 18/9/1278/F1.large.jpg.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1278-1289
Number of pages12
JournalMolecular Cancer Research
Issue number9
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2020
Externally publishedYes


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