Matrix metalloproteinase 2 is a target of the RAN-GTP pathway and mediates migration, invasion and metastasis in human breast cancer

Mohamed El-Tanani, Angela Platt-Higgins, Yin-Fai Lee, Arwa Omar Al Khatib, Yusuf Haggag, Mark Sutherland, Shu-Dong Zhang, Alaa A A Aljabali, Vijay Mishra, Ángel Serrano-Aroca, Murtaza M Tambuwala, Philip S Rudland

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RAS-related nuclear protein(RAN) is a nuclear shuttle and normally regulates events in the cell cycle. When overexpressed in cultured cells, it causes increases in cell migration/invasion in vitro and its overexpression is associated with early breast cancer patient deaths in vivo. However, the underlying mechanism is unknown. The effect of RAN overexpression on potential targets MMP2, ATF3, CXCR3 was investigated by Real-Time PCR/Western blots in the triple receptor negative breast cancer(TRNBC) cell line MDA-MB231 and consequent biological effects were measured by cell adhesion, cell migration and cell invasion assays. Results showed that knockdown of RAN lead to a reduction of MMP2 and its potential regulators ATF3 and CXCR3. Moreover, knockdown of ATF3 or CXCR3 downregulated MMP2 without affecting RAN, indicating that RAN regulates MMP2 through ATF3 and CXCR3. Knockdown of RAN and MMP2 reduced cell adhesion, cell migration and cell growth in agar, whilst overexpression of MMP2 reversed the knockdown of RAN. Furthermore, immunohistochemical staining for RAN and MMP2 are positively associated with each other in the same tumour and separately with patient survival times in breast cancer specimens, suggesting that a high level of RAN may be a pre-requisite for MMP2 overexpression and metastasis. Moreover, positive immunohistochemical staining for both RAN and MMP-2 reduces further patient survival times over that for either protein separately. Our results suggest that MMP2 expression can stratify progression of breast cancers with a high and low incidence of RAN, both RAN and MMP2 in combination can be used for a more accurate patient prognosis. SIMPLE SUMMARY: Ran is an important regulator of normal cell growth and behaviour. We have established in cell line models of breast cancer (BC) a molecular pathway between RAN and its protein-degrading effector MMP-2 and properties related to metastasis in culture. Using immunohistochemistry (IHC) staining of primary BCs, we have shown that RAN and MMP-2 are on their own significantly associated with patient demise from metastatic BC. Moreover, when staining for MMP-2 is added to that for RAN in the primary tumours, there is a significant decrease in patient survival time over that for either protein alone. Thus a combination of staining for RAN and MMP2 is an excellent marker for poor prognosis in breast cancer.

Original languageEnglish
Article number121046
JournalLife Sciences
Early online date6 Oct 2022
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 1 Dec 2022

Bibliographical note

Copyright © 2022. Published by Elsevier Inc.

Funding Information:
Funded by Al-Ahliyya Amman University , Grow MedTech and Cancer and Polio Research Fund Ltd., UK (M. El-T, A.P-H, P.S.R).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Elsevier Inc.

Copyright © 2022 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


  • ATF3
  • Breast cancer
  • Cell migration
  • cMet
  • cMyc and Ki67
  • CXCR3
  • MMP2
  • Patient survival


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