Chronic stress accelerates metastasis – the main cause of death in cancer patients – through the activation of β-adrenoceptors (βARs). We have previously shown that β2AR signaling in MDA-MB-231HM breast cancer cells, facilitates invadopodia formation and invasion in vitro. However, in the tumor microenvironment where many stromal cells also express βAR, the role of β2AR signaling in tumor cells in metastasis is unclear. Therefore, to investigate the contribution of β2AR signaling in tumor cells to metastasis in vivo, we used RNA interference to generate MDA-MB-231HM breast cancer cells that are deficient in β2AR. β2AR knockdown in tumor cells reduced the proportion of cells with a mesenchymal-like morphology and, as expected, reduced tumor cell invasion in vitro. Conversely, overexpression of β2AR in low metastatic MCF-7 breast cancer cells induced an invasive phenotype. Importantly, we found that knockdown of β2AR in tumor cells significantly reduced the impact of stress on metastasis in vivo. These findings highlight a crucial role for β2AR tumor cell signaling in the adverse effects of stress on metastasis, and indicate that it may be necessary to block β2AR on tumor cells to fully control metastatic progression.
- Breast cancer
- Chronic stress