Sánchez-González et al. published in Cancer Research

January 13, 2020

miR-149 suppresses breast cancer metastasis by blocking paracrine interactions with macrophages

Ismael Sánchez-González, Anja Bobien, Christian Molnar, Simone Schmid, Michaela Strotbek, Melanie Boerries, Hauke Busch and Monilola A Olayioye


Paracrine activation of cells contained in the tumor microenvironment promotes tumor progression and metastasis. In breast cancer, malignant cells recruit and educate macrophages into a M2 tumor-promoting phenotype that supports the metastatic spread of cancer cells. Here, we show that miR-149 functions as a metastasis-suppressing microRNA in breast cancer cells by limiting colony-stimulating factor-1 (CSF1)-dependent recruitment and M2 polarization of macrophages. In lymph node-positive, triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) tissues, low miR-149 expression correlated with reduced macrophage infiltration and patient survival. By directly targeting CSF1, miR-149 expression in TNBC cell lines (MDA-MB-231 and BT-549) inhibited the recruitment of human monocytic THP-1 cells and primary human macrophages. Furthermore, in macrophages co-cultured with MDA-MB-231 cells expressing miR-149, epidermal growth factor (EGF) and amphiregulin expression levels were strongly reduced, resulting in reduced EGF receptor activation in the cancer cells. In vivo, lung metastases developing from orthotopic MDA-MB-231 tumors were reduced by 75% by miR-149 expression and this was associated with impaired M2 macrophage infiltration of the primary tumors. These data suggest that miR-149 downregulation functionally contributes to breast tumor progression by recruiting macrophages to the tumor and facilitating CSF1 and EGF receptor crosstalk between cancer cells and macrophages.

DOI: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-19-1934

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