Annexin a1 is required for efficient tumor initiation and cancer stem cell maintenance in a model of human breast cancer

Cameron N. Johnstone, Yan Tu, Shenna Langenbach, David Baloyan, Andrew D. Pattison, Peter Lock, Kara L. Britt, Brian D. Lehmann, Traude H. Beilharz, Matthias Ernst, Robin L. Anderson, Alastair G. Stewart

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7 Citations (Scopus)


Triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) has a poor outcome compared to other breast cancer subtypes, and new therapies that target the molecular alterations driving tumor progression are needed. Annexin A1 is an abundant multi-functional Ca2+ binding and membrane-associated protein. Reported roles of Annexin A1 in breast cancer progression and metastasis are contradictory. Here, we sought to clarify the functions of Annexin A1 in the development and progression of TNBC. The association of Annexin A1 expression with patient prognosis in subtypes of TNBC was examined. Annexin A1 was stably knocked down in a panel of human and murine TNBC cell lines with high endogenous Annexin A1 expression that were then evaluated for orthotopic growth and spontaneous metastasis in vivo and for alterations in cell morphology in vitro. The impact of Annexin A1 knockdown on the expression of genes involved in mammary epithelial cell differentia tion and epithelial to mesenchymal transition was also determined. Annexin A1 mRNA levels correlated with poor patient prognosis in basal-like breast tumors and also in the basal-like 2 subset of TNBCs. Unexpectedly, loss of Annexin A1 expression had no effect on either primary tumor growth or spontaneous metastasis of MDA-MB-231_HM xenografts, but abrogated the growth rate of SUM149 orthotopic tumors. In an MMTV-PyMT driven allograft model of breast cancer, Annexin A1 depletion markedly delayed tumor formation in both immuno-competent and immuno-deficient mice and induced epithelial to mesenchymal transition and upregulation of basal markers. Finally, loss of Annexin A1 resulted in the loss of a discrete CD24+/Sca1 population containing putative tumor initiating cells. Collectively, our data demonstrate a novel cell-autonomous role for Annexin A1 in the promotion of tumor-forming capacity in a model of human breast cancer and suggest that some basal-like TNBCs may require high endogenous tumor cell Annexin A1 expression for continued growth.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1154
Number of pages27
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2021


  • Allograft
  • Annexin A1
  • Breast cancer
  • Mouse model
  • Xenograft

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