Therapeutic inhibition of breast cancer bone metastasis progression and lung colonization: breaking the vicious cycle by targeting a5b1 integrin

Hongren Yao

Donna M. Veine

Donna L. Livant

⦁ eceived: 24 March 2016 / Accepted: 24 May 2016
⦁ pringer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Abstract At diagnosis, 10 % of breast cancer patients already have locally advanced or metastatic disease; more- over, metastasis eventually develops in at least 40 % of early breast cancer patients. Osteolytic bone colonization occurs in 80–85 % of metastatic breast cancer patients and is thought to be an early step in metastatic progression. Thus, breast cancer displays a strong preference for metastasis to bone, and most metastatic breast cancer patients will experience its complications. Our prior research has shown that the a5b1 integrin fibronectin receptor mediates both metastatic and angiogenic invasion. We invented a targeted peptide inhibitor

kg PhScN monotherapy reduces established intratibial MDA- MB-231 bone colony progression by 80 %. Thus, PhScN is a highly potent, well-tolerated inhibitor of both lung colo- nization and bone colony progression.

Keywords Breast cancer Invasion Bone metastasis Extravasation Lung metastasis Integrin fibronectin receptor Systemic therapy

SF Serum free

of activated a5b1, Ac-PHSCN-NH2
(PHSCN), as a validated
FBS Fetal bovine serum

lead compound to impede both metastatic invasion and neovascularization. Systemic PHSCN monotherapy pre- vented disease progression for up to 14 months in Phase I clinical trial. Here, we report that the next-generation con- struct, Ac-PhScN-NH2 (PhScN), which contains D-isomers of histidine (h) and cysteine (c), is greater than 100,000-fold more potent than PHSCN at blocking basement membrane invasion. Moreover, PhScN is also up to 10,000-fold more potent than PHSCN at inhibiting lung extravasation and colonization in athymic mice for both MDA-MB-231 meta- static and SUM149PT inflammatory breast cancer cells. Furthermore, we show that systemic treatment with 50 mg/

& Donna L. Livant
Bio Biotin
IC50 Concentration for 50 % inhibition
pFn Plasma fibronectin
DRI Dose reduction index
DiI 1,1 -Dilinoleyl-3,3,3 3 – tetramethylindocarbocyanine perchlorate
MAP Multiantigenic peptide
MAb Monoclonal antibody
SEM Standard error of mean
Me Methyl
OAc Acetyl
lg Microgram
ng Nanogram
pg Picogram
mw Molecular weight

[email protected]
Hongren Yao
[email protected]
Dissociation constant

Donna M. Veine
[email protected]

Department of Radiation Oncology and Comprehensive Cancer Center, University of Michigan, 1500 East Medical Center Drive, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-5637, USA

Metastatic disease develops in 40 % of early breast cancer patients [1] and rapidly metastasizes to bone in 85 % [2, 3]. Bone metastases are osteolytic [2], releasing factors from


0 0 0

the matrix stimulating tumor growth and bone resorption: the ‘‘vicious cycle’’[2]. Because inflammatory breast cancer (IBC) patients have lymph node involvement and distant metastases at diagnosis, IBC is similar to metastatic breast cancer [1].
Interaction of activated a5b1 integrin fibronectin receptors of metastatic or inflammatory breast cancer cells with the plasma fibronectin (pFn) PHSRN sequence indu- ces constitutive invasion [4]. Moreover, a5b1 regulates invasion [5], angiogenesis [6], extravasation, and colo- nization by breast and other adenocarcinomas [7–13].
Breast Cancer Res Treat

In vitro invasion assays

In vitro invasion assays employing naturally serum-free (SF) basement membranes (SU-ECM) were performed and data analyzed as in [4–9, 14, 16, 17]. Peptides were pre- bound to serum-starved, suspended cells prior to placement on SU-ECM. Mean invasion percentages were analyzed using Prism software (GraphPad Software, San Diego, CA) as a function of log (inhibitor) versus normalized data, variable slope.

Radiation stimulates invasion by inducing surface upreg-
Determination of dissociation, K
, and inhibition

ulation of activated a5b1 integrin [14].
We devised a potent, targeted a5b1 integrin inhibitor,
constants, Ki
, for cell surface binding

(PHSCN), as a validated lead compound
PHSCN and PhScN dissociation constants were determined

to prevent metastatic [5] and angiogenic invasion [6]. In Phase I clinical trial, systemic PHSCN monotherapy pre- vented disease progression for up to 14 months [15]. Here, we report that Ac-PhScN-NH2—containing D-isomers of histidine (h) and cysteine (c)—is over 100,000-fold more potent than PHSCN at blocking basement membrane invasion by MDA-MB-231 and SUM149PT breast cancer
by centrifugation binding assays [18], using biotinylated, N-acetylated, C-amidated Ac-PHSCNGGK-Bio and Ac- PhScNGGK-Bio [9, 12]. Maximal a5b1 activation was promoted by manganese. Binding experiments were per- formed as pairs to ensure consistency. 150,000 cells, sus- pended in binding buffer (10 mM HEPES, pH 7.4, 150 mM NaCl, 0.1 % bovine calf serum, and 2 mM

cells. We also report that PhScN is 100- to 10,000-fold
) were incubated with varying concentrations of

more potent at inhibiting lung extravasation, and 1000- to 10,000-fold more potent at reducing lung colonization in nude mice. Finally, we report that systemic 50 mg/kg PhScN monotherapy reduces established MDA-MB-231 intratibial colony progression by almost 80 %. Thus, PhScN is a highly potent, well-tolerated inhibitor of bone colony progression.

Materials and methods

Cell lines and cell culture

SUM149PT (Asterand USA, Detroit, MI), MDA-MB-231, and human microvascular endothelial cells (American Type Culture Collection, Manassas, VA) were cultured as recommended, and microscopic morphologies were rou- tinely checked.

Peptide synthesis

N-terminal-acetylated, C-terminal-amidated PhScN, PHSCN, hSPNc, and HSPNC peptides, PhScNGGK-MAP poly-lysine dendrimer, and cysteine or biotinylated (-Bio) derivatives were synthesized and purified to 95 % by Peptide 2.0 (Chantilly, VA), Peptisyntha, Inc. (Torrance, CA) or the University of Michigan Peptide Synthesis Core.

biotinylated peptides for 2 h at 4 C. Washed cell pellets were incubated at 4 C for 30 min with Streptavidin-per- oxidase (Sigma) and o-phenylenediamine substrate, stabi- lized by the addition of HCl. Absorbances were recorded at 490 nM.
Competition assays were performed with a constant concentration of biotinylated peptide and varying amounts of unlabeled competitor. Equilibrium time was 3 h [9]. Binding data were analyzed, and curves were fit using nonlinear regression approaches [9, 19].

Fluorescent DiI labeling of MDA-MB-231
and SUM149PT cells

Washed, confluent cells were suspended and orange fluo- rescently labeled in SF medium with lipophilic carbocya- nine vital dye DiI, 1,1 -dilinoleyl-3,3,3 3 -tetramethylindo- carbocyanine perchlorate (Invitrogen) [7–9]. Labeled cells were pelleted, resuspended in 6 ml of medium, and cul- tured 72 h prior to use.


Female Foxn1 athymic nude mice (Harlan) were housed according to the Association for the Assessment and Accreditation for Laboratory Animal Care guidelines. Studies were performed with approved institutional animal use protocols.

Breast Cancer Res Treat

Lung extravasation and colonization by MDA-MB- 231 or SUM149PT cells

Extravasation-inhibitory potencies of single systemic pre-

actin [7–9]. Twenty 10-micron sections, separated by 200 microns, were analyzed from each tibia.

Data analysis

treatments of Ac-PhScN-NH2
, Ac-PHSCN-NH2, or Ac-

PhScNGGK-MAP were evaluated using DiI-labeled, pep- tide- or dendrimer-prebound cells [7–9]. Treated cells were
Dose response data were analyzed as in [9] by Chou– Talalay Combination index (CI) [21], based on the multiple

prebound with 1, 10, or 100 ng/ml Ac-PhScN-NH
; 10,
drug effect equation, where y = log(fa/fu), with respect to

100, or 1000 ng/ml Ac-PHSCN-NH2; 1000 ng/ml Ac- HSPNC-NH2; or 1000 ng/ml Ac-hSPNc-NH2, for 10 min at 37 C. Groups of 10 nude mice received one systemic pretreatment with the appropriate peptide concentration by
x = log(dose), defines the dose effect relationship without reaction rate constants. fa is the fraction of cells affected (invasion-inhibited), and fu is the fraction of cells unaf- fected (invaded). The x intercept represents the IC50 value.

tail vein injection. Immediately thereafter, 10,000 cells,
CI and DRI values were determined for Ac-PhScN-NH

prebound with the appropriate peptide or with HBSS only
relative to Ac-PHSCN-NH

were injected into tail veins in 0.1 ml HBSS. Mice received no other systemic treatments were euthanized 24 h later, and their lungs were removed. Frozen-tissue samples were prepared, and lung-extravasated cells were quantitated at 400-fold magnification by Zeiss Scanning Laser Confocal microscopy (LSM510). 25 10-lm sections, taken at inter- vals of 100 lm, were analyzed from one lung in each mouse. Data are presented as mean ± SEM. Mice evalu- ated for lung colonization were maintained without further treatment for 6 weeks prior to euthanization.


Increased invasion-inhibitory potency of Ac-PhScN- NH2, and Ac-PhScNGGK-MAP

SF SU-ECM basement membranes [9] were utilized to evaluate invasion-inhibitory potencies of S-acetylated or S-methylated PHSCN derivatives [Ac-PHSC(S-OAc)N-

and Ac-PHSC(S-Me)N-NH
], the D-His, D-Cys-

Western blot analysis of activated caspase-3
in SUM149PT cells

Adherent SUM149PT cells were serum-starved overnight, then incubated in serum-containing medium with 0, 10, 50,
containing PhScN peptide (Ac-PhScN-NH2), and the D-His, D-Cys-containing PhScNGGK poly-lysine multi- antigenic peptide dendrimer (Ac-PhScNGGK-MAP) on a5b1-mediated, serum-induced, or SF PHSRN-induced invasion. Figure 1a shows Hill-Slope plots evaluating

100, 200, or 300 lg of Ac-PhScN-NH
, or 500 lg per 10
effects of varying concentrations of Ac-PHSC(S-OAc)N-

cells of Ac-hSPNc-NH2
for 1 h, prior to washing thrice
, Ac-PHSC(S-Me)N-NH2
, and Ac-PhScN-NH

with PBS. Anti-cleaved Caspase 3 MAb (Cell Signaling
FCS-induced invasion, compared to Ac-PHSCN-NH

#9661) primary antibody and horseradish peroxidase HRP- linked anti-rabbit IgG (Cell Signaling, #7074) were used in Western blot analysis of cleaved Caspase-3, as instructed.

Intratibial injection of DiI-labeled MDA-MB-231
(Fig. 1a). To demonstrate that PhScN targets a5b1 inte- grin-mediated invasion, the a5b1-speci fic Fn cell-binding domain ligand [22], Ac-PHSRN-NH2 (PHSRN), was used to induce SF invasion by MDA-MB-231 (Fig. 1b). The alternating L- and D-stereoisomer sequence of Ac-PhScN-

produced an endoproteinase-resistant peptide with a

Treatment groups of 10 mice were each injected in right tibial crest cortex with 10,000 DiI-labeled MDA-MB-231 cells, not pretreated with peptide [20]. Intratibial colonies progressed untreated for 2 weeks prior to initiation of thrice-weekly PhScN or PHSCN therapies, at 0.0, 5.0, and 50.0 mg/kg. Sterile peptide solutions were prepared in 50 mM HEPES, pH 7.4, and tail vein injected in 100 ll. Mice were euthanized 24 days later, after 10 systemic
100,000-fold increased invasion-inhibitory potency, for serum-induced and SF PHSRN-induced invasion, similar to that achieved by covalent S-modification of the PHSCN cysteine residue. Similar Hill-Slope plots were obtained for SUM149PT (Table 1).
Table 1 summarizes half maximal invasion-inhibitory concentration (IC50) and dose reduction index (DRI) values for PHSCN and S-methylated [C(Me)N] or S-acetylated [C(OAc)N] derivatives for MDA-MB-231 and

treatments. Tibia were fixed in 4.0 % paraformaldehyde at
and DRI values based on pg/ml or molar

4 C for 3 days, rinsed in 1.0 % PBS for 2 days, and then
(M) concentrations are presented for Ac-PhScN-NH

stored in 20.0 % sucrose until transfer to a sucrose series in mounting medium, followed by embedding and staining with DAPI, conjugated with green fluorescence-labeled
(PhScN) and Ac-PhScNGGK-MAP dendrimer (cN-MAP) for serum- or SF Ac-PHSRN-NH2 (PHSRN)-induced invasion. Since PhScN is a highly potent inhibitor of SF


% Relative Invasion
% Relative Invasion
11 12
12 13

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PHSRN-induced invasion by MDA-MB-231 and SUM149PT, PhScN targets a5b1-mediated invasion in both cell lines.
PHSCN was suggested to inhibit invasion via disulfide bonding with a5b1 integrin [10]. However, increased-in- hibitory potencies of the S-acetylated or S-methylated PHSCN derivatives for MDA MB231 and SUM149PT cells, and for prostate cancer [9], suggest that the produc-

-4 -2 0 2 4 6 8
tive mechanism is noncovalent.
PhScNGGK-MAP (7500 Da), containing 8 subunits of PhScN demonstrated a 10 -fold increased invasion-in-



hibitory potency over monomeric PhScN (596 Da), sig- nificantly greater than the 1000-fold increase seen when

comparing PHSCNGGK-MAP and PHSCN [7, 8] (Fig. 1b;

Table 1).

Dissociation constants (Kd) and competition binding assays for cell surface binding using biotinylated PhScN or PHSCN

-8 -6 -4 -2 0 2 4 6 8

Fig. 1 Hill-slope plots of increased invasion-inhibitory potency of Ac-PhScN-NH2 peptide, Ac-PhScNGGK-MAP dendrimer, and the cysteine-modified, methylated (Me), or acetylated (OAc) peptides,

D-amino acid substitutions change the orientation of the side chains on the PhScN peptide backbone, which could affect target binding and explain the 100,000-fold increase in PhScN invasion-inhibitory potency. A binding assay, developed to determine the dissociation constant (Kd) of

2, and Ac-PHSC(OAc)N-NH
for MDA-MB-231
biotin-labeled PHSCN peptide to suspended cells [10], was

cells. a Effects on FBS-induced invasion by cysteine-modified Ac- PHSC(Me)N-NH2 or Ac-PHSC(OAc)N-NH2, and D-His, D-Cys containing Ac-PhScN-NH2 peptides. Symbols are denoted in the figure. X axis, log peptide concentration in pg per ml; Y axis, mean
utilized to compare the Kd’s of biotinylated PhScN and PHSCN peptides. The invasion-inhibitory potencies of biotinylated PHSCN and PhScN were confirmed on SU-

relative percentages of invaded cells (±SD). IC50 and DRI values are
’s of Ac-PhScNGGK-Bio and Ac-PHSCNGGK-

summarized in Table 1. b Increased potencies of PhScN peptide and PhScN dendrimer for both serum-induced and serum-free (SF), Ac- PHSRN-NH2 (1 lg/ml)-induced, a5b1-mediated invasion. Circles denote Ac-PhScN-NH 2; squares denote Ac-PhScNGGK-MAP den-
Bio were similar to those of Ac-PhScN-NH2 and Ac- PHSCN-NH2, respectively, for suspended MDA-MB-231 (Fig. 2a; Table 2) and SUM149PT (Table 2).

drimer; and triangles denote Ac-hSPNc-NH
2. Closed symbols denote
As shown in Fig. 2b and summarized in Table 2, Kd’s for

FBS-induced and open symbols denote Ac-PHSRN-NH2 (1 lg/ml) induced, SF invasion. X axis, log peptide concentration in pg/ml; Y axis, mean relative percentage of invaded cells (±SD). The solid and dashed lines represent published values for Ac-PHSCN-NH2 and Ac-PHSCNGGK-MAP, respectively [7]
Ac-PHSCNGGK-Bio binding to suspended SUM149PT and MDA-MB-231 cells were 0.028 and 0.032 lM, respectively. Kd values for Ac-PhScNGGK-Bio were 0.029 and 0.053 lM for suspended SUM 149PT and MDA-MB-

Table 1 Inhibition of a5b1- mediated invasion of basement


membranes by SUM149PT and

MDA-Mb-231 cells: IC50 and DRI values for PhScN and PHSCN derivatives
pg/ml pg/ml pg/ml pg/ml pg/ml M
PHSCN 598 8980 67,120 16,800 14,500 1
CN-MAP 7500 125 152 128 90 10


C(Me)N 614 0.27

0.36 –

C(OAc)N 640 0.01



PhScN 598 0.076
0.135 0.124

cN-MAP 7500 4.4 9 10
7.6 9 10
1.3 9 10
1.1 9 10
10 –10
10 –10


Breast Cancer Res Treat

231, respectively. Since PhScN and PHSCN Kd values were similar, the improved invasion-inhibitory potency of PhScN (Table 1) is due to elimination of the nonproductive cova- lent side reaction by orienting the D-His and D-Cys side chains to the opposite side of the peptide ligand, rather than to tighter binding, as for prostate cancer [9]. Thus, nonco- valent interaction is key to invasion-inhibitory potency.
Competition assays were also performed to confirm that PHSCN and PhScN interact with the same binding site on breast cancer cells, like prostate cancer [9]. Results of assays, in which suspended MDA-MB-231 cells were incubated with a constant concentration (0.1 lM) of biotinylated Ac-PHSCNGGK-Bio and varying concentra-

tions of Ac-PhScN-NH
, are presented in Fig. 2c. They

show that dissociation of Ac-PHSCNGGK-Bio with

increasing concentrations of unlabeled Ac-PhScN-NH

occurs over 2 orders of magnitude, demonstrating that PhScN and PHSCN compete for the same binding site on MDA-MB-231 [19], as for SUM149PT, not shown.

Increased lung extravasation inhibition by PhScN and PhScNGGK-MAP

Lung extravasation-inhibitory efficacies of PhScN and PhScNGGK-MAP were compared with PHSCN in nude mice. As shown in Fig. 3a, the mean number of extra- vasated MDA-MB-231 and SUM149PT cells per section was decreased by 100- to 1000-fold by Ac-PhScN-NH2, and by at least 100,000-fold by Ac-PhScNGGK-MAP,

relative to Ac-PHSCN-NH2
. The median-effect plot of

Fig. 2 a Hill-slope plots of invasion inhibition by biotinylated derivatives of PHSCN and PhScN for MDA-MB-231 cells induced by FBS. Speci fic agents (CN-Bio, Ac-PHSCNGGK-Bio; cN-Bio, Ac- PhScNGGK-Bio) are listed on the right. X axis, log peptide concentration in pg per ml; Y axis, mean relative percentages of invaded cells (±SD). IC50 and DRI values are summarized in Table 2. b Kd binding assays for Ac-PHSCNGGK-Bio (CN-Bio) and Ac- PhScNGGK-Bio (cN-Bio) peptides with suspended MDA MB231
Fig. 3b shows that increasing concentrations of PhScN or PHSCN, or PhScNGGK-MAP dendrimer, log-linearly decrease SUM149PT and MDA-MB-231 extravasation, with similar relative potencies. Pretreatment with 1 lg per ml Ac-hSPNc-NH2 scrambled sequence control, followed by a single systemic treatment at the equivalent dose, had no inhibitory effect on extravasation, not shown. As sum- marized in Table 3, Ac-PhScN-NH2 is 100- to 1000-fold

cells. Plots were fit using a total binding equation to account for
more potent than Ac-PHSCN-NH
at inhibiting

nonspecific binding [19]. c Competition binding was determined by incubating suspended MDA-MB-231 cells with a constant concen- tration of 0.1 lM Ac-PHSCNGGK-Bio (labeled) and varying amounts of unlabeled Ac-PhScN-NH2. Plot was fitted using the Motulsky and Neubig competitive inhibition equation [19]
SUM149PT and MDA-MB-231 lung extravasation, and Ac-PhScNGGK-MAP is 100,000- to 1000,000-fold more potent. These in vivo values correlate with those seen in SU-ECM invasion assays (Table 1), and are similar to

Table 2 Invasion inhibition: IC50 and Kd ‘s for biotinylated PhScN and PHSCN derivatives

Mw SUM149 PT MDA-MB-231
IC50 (pg/ml) Kd (lM) IC50 (pg/ml) Kd (lM)


598 8980 NA 16,800 NA

598 0.076 NA 0.124 NA

Ac-PHSCNGGK-Bio 1100 8637 0.028 ± 0.02 5622 0.032 ± 0.03 Ac-PhScNGGK-Bio 1100 0.051 0.029 ± 0.02 0.15 0.053 ± 0.03


cells extravasated/section

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10 100 1000
1 10 100
1 10 100

ng/ml PHSCN ng/ml PhScN pg/ml cN-MAP


⦁ ontrol PhScN PHSCN

Fig. 3 Increased extravasation inhibition by Ac-PhScN-NH


or Ac-

sectioned lung tissue for MDA-MB231 extravasation analyzed by

PhScNGGK-MAP prebinding, relative to Ac-PHSCN-NH2 peptide.
confocal microscopy after pretreatment with 100 ng/ml Ac-PhScN-

a Y axes, average cells extravasated/section; X axes, Con, control; 10,
or 100 ng/ml Ac-PHSCN-NH
2, compared to untreated control.

100, 1000 ng/ml PHSCN; 1, 10, 100 ng/ml PhScN; 1, 10, 100 pg/ml PhScNGGK-MAP. b Median-effect plot for extravasation into lung
d Typical examples of sectioned lung tissue for SUM149PT extravasation analyzed by confocal microscopy after pretreatment

after prebinding with PHSCN (circles), PhScN (squares ) or PhScN-
with 100 ng/ml Ac-PhScN-NH
or 1000 ng/ml Ac-PHSCN-NH

MAP (triangles ); open symbols MDA-MB231 cells; closed symbols SUM 149 PT cells. X axes, log peptide concentration in ng/ml; Y axes,
compared to untreated control. Images represent the merged com- posite of DiI-labeled cells shown in orange; blue stained nuclei from

mean log fraction affected/fraction unaffected (f
u) ± SEM. IC50
DAPI Mounting Medium; green tissue from actin staining. (Color

and DRI values are summarized in Table 3. c Typical examples of

those observed for metastatic prostate cancer [9]. Fig-
figure online)

by confocal microscopic analysis after pretreatment with

ure 3c, d shows typical examples of sectioned lung tissue
100 ng/ml Ac-PhScN-NH
or 100 ng/ml Ac-PHSCN-NH

for MDA-MB-231 and SUM149PT extravasation, obtained 123
versus untreated or scrambled sequence controls.

2 3
2 3

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Table 3 Extravasation Inhibition, IC50’s and DRI values for PhScN, PHSCN, and the PhScNGGK-dendrimer, cN-MAP

treated with hSPNc demonstrates that although elevated PhScN concentrations are required for activated Caspase-3 upregulation, the effect is sequence specific.

PhScN exhibits a similar increase in lung colonization-

pg/ml pg/ml pg/ml M
inhibitory potency, relative to PHSCN, for MDA-MB-231

PHSCN 598 214 61 1
and SUM149PT (1000- to 10,000-fold). However, the

PhScN 598 2.0 0.036 10 –10
10 –10
corresponding IC
values are 10- to 100-fold higher for

cN-MAP 7500 0.0005 0.0006 10
SUM149PT (Table 4)—perhaps due to differences between metastatic and inflammatory cancer cell lines—

Increased potency of PhScN peptide as an inhibitor of lung colonization

Since extravasated cells may not establish a metastasis [23], effects of PhScN or PHSCN pretreatment on lung colonization were determined by allowing extravasated cells to grow 6 weeks without further treatment. Figure 4a shows the comparison of the effects of prebinding various concentrations of PhScN or PHSCN to suspended, DiI- labeled SUM149PT or MDA-MB-231 on lung colonization after tail vein injection. Dose response curves in Fig. 4b are
the DRI values suggest that PhScN is 1000- to 10,000-fold more potent at preventing lung colonization than PHSCN for both MDA-MB-231 and SUM149PT.

Inhibition of MDA-MB-231 bone metastasis progression by systemic PhScN

Breast cancer bone metastasis occurs earlier than lung colonization [3]. Interaction with surrounding bone marrow and matrix is described by the ‘‘vicious cycle’’model [2], in which parathyroid hormone-related protein (PTHrP) expressed by breast cancer cells after bone colonization [25], stimulates progression and enhances osteoclastic bone

median-effect plots, and the IC
and DRI values are
resorption [24, 26–28]. Metastatic breast cancer cell signals

summarized in Table 4. Both PhScN and PHSCN pre- treatment log-linearly decreased MDA-MB-231 and SUM149PT lung colonization. PhScN was 3850-fold more potent than PHSCN for reducing SUM149PT lung colony formation, and 32,143-fold more potent for MDA-MB-231. Furthermore, since all of the 120 control (untreated, Ac- HSPNC-NH2- or Ac-hSPNc-NH2-treated) mice, injected intravenously with suspended SUM149PT or MDA-MB- 231 cells, had to be euthanized to prevent suffering due to respiratory distress, while none of the PhScN-treated mice did, systemic PhScN therapy may also be a more potent inhibitor of respiratory distress due to lung metastasis progression. Figure 4c shows the examples of DiI-labeled MDA-MB-231 colonies in fluorescent actin- and DAPI- stained lung tissue after no treatment, and after prebinding of the injected cells to 100 ng/ml of either PHSCN or PhScN. SUM149PT lung colonies had a similar appear- ance, data not shown.
Since stress activates a5b1 [24], and apoptosis induction could increase PhScN potency, we assessed apoptosis in vitro by examining effects of a 1-h treatment with a range of Ac-PhScN-NH2 concentrations. Figure 4d pre- sents a typical Western blot indicating that PhScN rapidly induces dose-dependent upregulation of activated Caspase- 3 in adherent SUM149PT. However, the concentrations are 1000- to 100,000-fold higher than those required for lung colonization inhibition. Lack of effect of an elevated con- centration of a scrambled sequence control, 500 lg Ac-
induce osteoblasts to express osteoclast stimulatory factors [29], stimulating multinucleated osteoclasts to resorb mineralized bone matrix [30–32] and release sequestered growth factors that interact with their receptors to promote metastatic growth by stimulating angiogenesis [33–36]. Activated a5b1 receptors of microvascular endothelial cells interact with the pFn PHSRN sequence to induce angiogenic invasion [6]. Matrix metalloproteinase-1 (MMP1), induced by a5b1 FnR binding to PHSRN, mediates both angiogenic and metastatic invasion by breast, prostate, and pancreatic cancer cells [4–6, 14]. MMP-1 activates the protease activated receptor-1 (PAR-1) gene in both breast cancer [37] and endothelial cells [38], thereby promoting breast cancer invasion and angiogene- sis. PTHrP stimulates osteoblasts to induce progenitor differentiation into active osteoclasts which mediate bone resorption, releasing epidermal growth factor (EGF)-like growth factors to further stimulate bone metastasis pro- gression [39]. Overexpression of receptor tyrosine-protein kinase erbB-2 (HER2) induces a5b1-mediated, mammary epithelial cell invasion [40], due to surface downregulation of the invasion-inhibitory a4b1 integrin [41]. Furthermore, MDA-MB-231 colonies in the bones of athymic mice can induce angiogenesis in osteolytic metastases [36]. Identi- fication of a5b1 as the primary integrin fibronectin receptor on human bone marrow stroma [42] suggests that PhScN could be effective in reducing bone metastases. These interactions and the potential inhibitory effects of PhScN

per 10 SUM149PT cells, is also shown. Lack
therapy on a5b1-mediated breast cancer (BC) and angio-

of activated Caspase-3 upregulation in SUM149PT cells
genic invasion are diagrammed in Scheme 1.



Breast Cancer Res Treat

Fig. 4 Increased inhibition of lung colonization by Ac-PhScN-NH




compared to untreated control. Images represent the

prebinding, relative to Ac-PHSCN-NH2. a Y axes, average colonies/section; X axes, Con, control; NC, 100 ng/ml HSPNC or hSPNc; 10, 100, 1000 ng/ml PHSCN; 1, 10, 100 ng/ml PhScN. b Median-effect plot for lung colony formation after prebinding to PHSCN (circles) or PhScN (squares ). Closed symbols, dotted lines
merged composite of DiI-labeled cells shown in orange; blue stained nuclei from DAPI Mounting Medium; green tissue from actin staining. d Example of a typical Western blot showing dose- dependent upregulation of activated Caspase-3 in adherent SUM149PT cells by a 1-h treatment with a range of Ac-PhScN-

SUM149PT cells; open symbols, solid lines MDA-MB-231 cells.
concentrations (10, 50, 100, 200, or 300 lg/10 cells). Micro-

X axes, log peptide concentration in ng/ml. Y axes, mean log fraction affected/fraction unaffected (fa/fu) ± SEM. IC50 and DRI values are summarized in Table 4. c Typical examples of sectioned lung tissue for MDA-MB-231 colonization analyzed by confocal microscopy
grams of Ac-PhScN-NH2 per million SUM149PT cells are indicated. Lack of effects of an elevated concentration of a scrambled sequence control, 500 lg Ac-hSPNc-NH2 per 10 SUM149PT cells, is also shown. (Color figure online)

after pretreatment with 100 ng/ml Ac-PhScN-NH
or 100 ng/ml Ac-

We evaluated microvascular endothelial cell (hmvec)
PhScN demonstrated a 6.3 9 10 -fold increase in potency

invasion in vitro as described [6]; PHSCN and PhScN were confirmed to block invasion. The IC
values were similar
over PHSCN (PhScN IC
8.4 9 10 M).
, 1.3 9 10 M; PHSCN IC

to those determined for MDA-MB-231 and SUM149PT.


Scheme 1 Vicious cycle model of breast cancer bone metastasis. BC breast cancer, MMP-1 matrix metalloproteinase-1 interstitial colla- genase, PTHrP parathyroid hormone-related protein, EGF-like GFs epidermal growth factor-like growth factors, EGFR epidermal growth
3 4
3 4

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Table 4 Effects of PHSCN or PhScN pretreatment on lung colonization

systemic treatments. As shown in Fig. 5a, 50 mg/kg sys- temic PhScN monotherapy reduced bone colony progres- sion by 77 %, compared to 57 % for 50 mg/kg PHSCN.

IC50 IC50
Median-effect analyses, Fig. 5b, indicate a dosage IC

pg/ml pg/ml pg/ml M
0.4 mg/kg for PhScN and 10 mg/kg for PHSCN. The DRI

PHSCN 4890 450 1 PhScN 1.27 0.014 10 –10
10 –10
values indicate that PhScN is 25-fold more potent than PHSCN as a systemic inhibitor of bone metastasis pro- gression. As seen in confocal microscopy examples, Fig. 5c, few cells remained in the bone marrow of 50 mg/ kg PhScN-treated mice; significantly more were present in

To compare the effects of PHSCN and PhScN on established bone metastases, DiI-labeled, untreated MDA- MB-231 cells were injected intratibially and allowed to grow into intra-osteal colonies for 2 weeks before thrice- weekly systemic treatments of 5 or 50 mg/kg of PhScN or PHSCN were initiated. Systemic treatments were contin- ued for 24 days. Each mouse received a total of 10

factor receptor
marrows of mice treated with 50 mg/kg PHSCN. Bone colonies appeared to be either extravascular, or closely associated with the vasculature.

Colocalization of Ac-PhScNGGK-Bio with DiI
in extravasated breast cancer cells

Since nodal metastases occur in at least 20 % of patients undergoing completion axillary lymph node dissection (ALND) following a positive sentinel lymph node biopsy (SLNB), the use of SLNB alone for axilla staging under- estimates nodal disease [43]. Hence, a more efficient means of detecting metastatic disease would be beneficial. Ac- PhScNGGK-Bio might be an efficient detection agent for extravasated breast cancer cells in sectioned biopsies. Thus, we assessed Ac-PhScNGGK-Bio/DiI colocalization in tail vein-injected, lung-extravasated SUM149PT cells. As shown in Fig. 6a, a range of Ac-PhScNGGK-Bio con- centrations (1.0–50.0 lg per ml) labeled 89–90 % of extravasated cells 24 h after injection, suggesting that labeled PhScN is efficient agent for detecting extravasated breast cancer cells. Figure 6b shows representative images of extravasated DiI-labeled SUM149PT, with and without Ac-PhScNGGK-Bio.


Since recurrent or metastatic disease develops in 40 % of early breast cancer patients [1], with bone metastasis in most [2], there is an urgent need for effective therapy to prevent metastatic and angiogenic invasion. As summa- rized in Scheme 1, inhibition of activated a5b1 receptors on metastatic breast cancer and associated microvascular endothelial cells may form the basis of an effective tar- geted therapy to inhibit the vicious cycle of bone metastasis progression. Because overexpression of PTHrP in MDA- MB-231 cells induces a 10- to 25-fold upregulation of a5 integrin expression and increased a5b1 integrin [44], and because a5b1 mediates metastatic invasion, systemic dis- semination [4, 5, 14, 16, 45], and microvascular endothelial cell invasion [6], a5b1 is a key therapeutic target [4–9, 14, 17].



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Fig. 5 Increased potency of PhScN as a systemic therapy to prevent breast cancer bone colony progression in athymic mice. a Anti- metastatic potencies of systemic PhScN (Ac-PhScN-NH 2) versus

fu) ± SEM. c Examples of bone marrow from untreated mice, and from mice treated with a total of 10 thrice-weekly tail vein injections of 50 mg/kg PhScN or 50 mg/kg PHSCN. Images represent the

2) for reducing MDA-MB-231 bone marrow
merged composite of DiI-labeled cells shown in orange; stained

progression in athymic mice. Y axes, average colonies per section; X axes, Con, untreated control; 5 and 50 mg/kg PhScN; 5 and 50 mg/ kg PHSCN. b Median-effect plot for effects of PhScN versus PHSCN on bone marrow progression, X axis, log peptide dosage level (mg/ kg); Y axis, mean log fraction affected/fraction unaffected (fa/

Scheme 1 suggests that by targeting a5b1, PhScN may inhibit both angiogenesis and breast cancer bone invasion, as well as reducing bone resorption through its inhibitory effects on PTHrP- and growth factor-mediated signaling. We report that D-His, D-Cys-containing PhScN peptide is 10 -fold more potent than PHSCN as an inhibitor of a5b1- mediated, basement membrane invasion, 100- to 1000-fold more potent as an inhibitor of lung extravasation, and 3800- to 32,000-fold more potent at reducing lung colo- nization, when the effects of a single exposure to each peptide were compared. Since all untreated, HSPNC- or hSPNc-treated mice had to be euthanized to prevent suf- fering due to respiratory distress from the effects of SUM149PT or MDA-MB-231 overgrowth of their lungs, systemic PhScN therapy might also be able to reduce suffering due to lung metastasis progression in breast cancer patients.
Results were also presented showing that the multivalent presentation of PhScN sequence increases its relative potency on a molar basis by an additional 10 -fold as an

nuclei from DAPI Mounting Medium in blue; tissue from actin staining in green . Thus, DiI-labeled cells appear orange (Control) or green with orange inclusions (50 mg/kg PHSCN). No DiI-labeled cells appear in the image of sectioned bone from mice receiving 50 mg/kg PhScN. (Color figure online)

in vitro invasion inhibitor, or by an additional 1000- to 10,000-fold as a lung extravasation inhibitor. Consistent with the key role of a5b1-mediated invasion in metastatic progression [4–6], we also report that systemic PhScN monotherapy was well-tolerated and reduced bone colony progression. Our results also suggested that labeled PhScN is an efficient agent for detecting extravasated, potentially metastatic breast cancer cells, due to surface-activated a5b1 integrin expression.
Advanced breast cancer patients are currently treated with Denosumab anti-receptor activator of nuclear factor kappa-B (RANK) ligand MAb or zoledronic acid to man- age the bone metastasis symptoms and delay skeletal related events (SRE). However, neither treatment delays disease progression or increases overall survival [46–48]. In contrast, PhScN monotherapy demonstrated a nearly 80 % reduction of bone colony progression on established intra-osteal colonies. Thus, by targeting a5b1 receptors PhScN may offer the opportunity to slow disease pro- gression and break the vicious cycle.

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Acknowledgments The authors wish to thank Steve Kronenberg in the Department of Radiation Oncology, University of Michigan for drawing the bone metastasis model depicted in Scheme 1. We also wish to thank the University of Michigan Office of Technology Transfer for their work on patent 8,940,701: Compounds for, and methods of treating cancer and inhibiting invasion and metastases. The in vitro studies and lung metastasis research described here were supported by a Department of Defense Idea Expansion Award F028579. The bone metastasis research described here was supported by a grant from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, through the University of Michigan Medical School’s Strategic Research Initiative, U-M MTRAC for Life Sciences.

Authors’contributions Hongren Yao performed all of the tissue preparations and confocal microscopic studies necessary for the analysis of the effects of PhScN on lung extravasation and lung colonization. He also performed all of the intratibial injections and tissue preparations, as well as all of the confocal microscopic analysis

of bone marrow progression. Donna Veine performed all of the K

Fig. 6 Colocalization of Ac-PhScNGGK-Bio with DiI in lung- extravasated SUM149PT cells. a Percentage of DiI-labeled cells in lung tissue binding to different concentrations of Ac-PhScNGGK- Bio: 1, 5, or 50 lgper ml. X axis, binding agents: hSPNc, Ac-hSPNc- NH2 (a scrambled sequence control peptide); PhScN, Ac- PhScNGGK-Bio. Y axis, mean percentage of biotinylated, DiI-labeled SUM149PT cells (±SEM). b Examples of fluorescently stained lung tissue: control, no PhScNGGK-Bio; 50 lg PhScNGGK-Bio, 50 lg per ml Ac-PhScNGGK-Bio. DiI-labeled cells shown in orange; stained nuclei from DAPI Mounting Medium in blue; tissue from actin staining in green . (Color figure online)
determinations, competition binding assays, in vitro invasion assay preparations, data analysis, figure preparation and assisted in manu- script writing. Donna Livant performed all of the in vitro invasion assay data collections, as well as planning and directing the project, and writing the manuscript.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest The author, Donna Livant, received salary from the University of Michigan, which owns the patent on her invention, patent 8,940,701: Compounds for, and methods of treating cancer and inhibiting invasion and metastases. The authors, Hongren Yao and Donna Veine declare that they have no competing interests.


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