Metastasis of breast cancer (BC) is the leading cause of mortality in American women. In particular, brain metastasis is a significant clinical problem present in 30-40% of triple receptor negative (TN) and epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2) positive BC patients. These patients also have the worst prognosis of all breast cancers in women. Due to advances in clinical management at both the diagnostic and therapeutic levels, the lifespan or overall survival of these patients has increased, but the manifestation of brain metastasis at later stages of the disease remains an unfortunate burden for these patients. In addition, the blood-brain barrier (BBB) poses an additional hurdle for treatment of BC brain metastases, because the majority of chemotherapeutic drugs fail to cross the BBB. Furthermore, there is no single targeted therapy available for TNBC patients with brain metastasis, and thus there is an urgent requirement to discover novel biomarkers and therapeutics to address BC brain metastasis. In this regard, using a bioinformatics approach, we observed that several mucins, including MUC5AC, are significantly up-regulated in brain metastases of BC compared to primary tumors. However, we found the secretory mucin MUC5AC protein to be substantially high in brain-seeking BC (BSBC) cell lines and metastatic brain tissues. We also observed that knockdown of MUC5AC reduced proliferation and metastatic potential in these cell lines. Furthermore, we observed that MUC5AC colocalizes with activated MET receptor. MUC5AC knockdown in BSBC cell lines reduced MET activation and its downstream targets FAK and paxillin. Interestingly, MET and FAK inhibition using pharmacological inhibitors led to substantial decrease in MUC5AC expression. Overall, these studies suggest that MUC5AC-MET axis may regulate breast cancer brain metastasis. Understanding the MUC5AC-MET axis could be a novel approach for the development of better prognosis and prevention of life-threatening and treatment-resistant breast cancer brain metastasis.

Citation Format: Mohd W. Nasser, Shailendra K. Gautam, Ranjana Kanchan, Pranita Atri, Jawed Siddiqui, Rakesh Bhatia, Joseph Carmicheal, Dario Ghersi, Sukhwinder Kaur, Siddharth Mahapatra, Maneesh Jain, Surinder K. Batra. Elucidating the role of MUC5AC-MET axis in breast cancer brain metastasis [abstract]. In: Proceedings of the American Association for Cancer Research Annual Meeting 2018; 2018 Apr 14-18; Chicago, IL. Philadelphia (PA): AACR; Cancer Res 2018;78(13 Suppl):Abstract nr 50.