Methods: To characterize the molecular and cellular mechanisms of β-adrenergic signaling on the invasive properties of breast cancer cells, we used functional cellular assays to quantify invadopodia formation and to evaluate cell invasion in two-dimensional and three-dimensional environments. The functional significance of β-adrenergic regulation of invadopodia was investigated in an orthotopic mouse model of spontaneous breast cancer metastasis.
Results: β-adrenoceptor activation increased the frequency of invadopodia-positive tumor cells and the number of invadopodia per cell. The effects were selectively mediated by the β2-adrenoceptor subtype, which signaled through the canonical Src pathway to regulate invadopodia formation. Increased invadopodia occurred at the expense of focal adhesion formation, resulting in a switch to increased tumor cell invasion through three-dimensional extracellular matrix. β2-adrenoceptor signaling increased invasion of tumor cells from explanted primary tumors through surrounding extracellular matrix, suggesting a possible mechanism for the observed increased spontaneous tumor cell dissemination in vivo. Selective antagonism of β2-adrenoceptors blocked invadopodia formation, suggesting a pharmacological strategy to prevent tumor cell dissemination.
Conclusion: These findings provide insight into conditions that control tumor cell invasion by identifying signaling through β2-adrenoceptors as a regulator of invadopodia formation. These findings suggest novel pharmacological strategies for intervention, by using β-blockers to target β2-adrenoceptors to limit tumor cell dissemination and metastasis.