The transcriptional regulator TBX3 promotes progression from non-invasive to invasive breast cancer

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Background: TBX3 is a T-box transcription factor repressor that is elevated in metastatic breast cancer and is believed to promote malignancy of tumor cells, possibly by promoting cell survival and epithelial-mesenchymal transition. Methods: The relative expression of TBX3 was assessed in the 21T cell lines which were derived from an individual patient and represent three distinct stages of breast cancer progression: 21PT, atypical ductal hyperplasia; 21NT, ductal carcinoma in situ; and 21MT-1, invasive mammary carcinoma. Two different isoforms of TBX3 (TBX3iso1 and TBX3iso2) were overexpressed to evaluate cell survival/colony forming ability, growth, and invasion in the ductal carcinoma in situ-like 21NT cell line using an in vitro Matrigel model of cancer progression. In addition, TBX3 expression was knocked down to evaluate the effects of downregulating TBX3 on the invasive mammary carcinoma-like 21MT-1 cell line. Finally, PCR array profiling was used to assess alterations in gene expression due to TBX3 overexpression in the 21NT cells. Results: TBX3 is abundant in the invasive 21MT-1 cell line, while being minimally expressed in the non-invasive 21NT and 21PT cell lines. Overexpression of either TBX3iso1 or TBX3iso2 in 21NT cells resulted in increased cell survival/colony forming ability, growth vs. apoptosis and invasion in Matrigel. In contrast, short hairpin RNA-mediated knockdown of TBX3 in the 21MT-1 cells resulted in smaller colonies, with a more regular, less dispersed (less infiltrative) morphology. Array profiling of the 21NT TBX3 iso1 and iso2 transfectants showed that there are common alterations in expression of several genes involved in signal transduction, cell cycle control/cell survival, epithelial-mesenchymal transition and invasiveness. Conclusions: Overall, these results indicate that TBX3 (isoform 1 or 2) expression can promote progression in a model of early breast cancer by altering cell properties involved in cell survival/colony formation and invasiveness, as well as key regulatory and EMT/invasiveness-related gene expressions.




Krstic, M., Macmillan, C. D., Leong, H. S., Clifford, A. G., Souter, L. H., Dales, D. W., … Tuck, A. B. (2016). The transcriptional regulator TBX3 promotes progression from non-invasive to invasive breast cancer. BMC Cancer, 16(1).

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