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Triple-Negative Breast Cancers (TNBCs) are the most difficult to treat subtype of breast cancer and are often associated with high nuclear expression of Snail and Cathepsin L (Cat L) protease. We have previously shown that Snail can increase Cat L expression/activity in prostate and breast cancer cells. This study investigated the role of CUX1 (a downstream substrate of Cat L) in TNBC. We showed that Cat L and CUX1 were highly expressed in TNBC patient tissue/cell lines, as compared to ER-positive samples, using cBioportal data and western blot/zymography analyses. Additionally, luciferase reporter and chromatin immunoprecipitation assays showed that CUX1 directly bound to estrogen receptor-alpha (ER-α) promoter in MDA-MB-468, a representative TNBC cell line, and that CUX1 siRNA could restore ER-α transcription and protein expression. Furthermore, Snail and CUX1 expression in various TNBC cell lines was inhibited by muscadine grape skin extract (MSKE, a natural grape product rich in anthocyanins) or Cat L inhibitor (Z-FY-CHO) leading to decreased cell invasion and migration. MSKE decreased cell viability and increased expression of apoptotic markers in MDA-MB-468 cells, with no effect on non-tumorigenic MCF10A cells. MSKE also decreased CUX1 binding to ER-α promoter and restored ER-α expression in TNBC cells, while both MSKE and CUX1 siRNA restored sensitivity to estradiol and 4-hydoxytamoxifen as shown by increased cell viability. Therefore, CUX1 activated by Snail-Cat L signaling may contribute to TNBC via ER-α repression, and may be a viable target for TNBC using natural products such as MSKE that targets cancer and not normal cells.
This article was published in the following journal.
Name: PloS one
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