The embryonic morphogen Nodal is a potent inducer of EMT and critical mediator of stem cell pluripotency in the developing embryo, but is not expressed in normal adult tissues. Intriguingly, our lab has recently shown that Nodal, a TGF-beta family member, is in fact secreted by melanoma and breast cancer cells and that Nodal expression positively correlates with tumor grade in human patient samples. Our current studies demonstrate a positive role for Nodal in regulating breast cancer cell renewal and aggressiveness. Specifically, short hairpin (shRNA) knockdown of Nodal expression in human breast cancer cell lines diminishes proliferation, invasion and clonogenicity of these cell lines in vitro and dramatically curtails tumor formation in a mouse xenograft model. Additionally, our data suggest that these effects may be caused, in part, by alterations in the expression of adhesion receptors known to function in tumor engraftment and metastasis. Taken together, our data suggest that Nodal signaling may facilitate the acquisition of self-renewal and migratory capabilities in breast cancer cells and represent a novel therapeutic target for disrupting these processes in breast cancer cells.

Citation Format: {Authors}. {Abstract title} [abstract]. In: Proceedings of the 103rd Annual Meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research; 2012 Mar 31-Apr 4; Chicago, IL. Philadelphia (PA): AACR; Cancer Res 2012;72(8 Suppl):Abstract nr 3353. doi:1538-7445.AM2012-3353