SOX11 promotes epithelial/mesenchymal hybrid state and alters tropism of invasive breast cancer cells.
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SOX11 is an embryonic mammary epithelial marker that is normally silenced prior to birth. High SOX11 levels in breast tumours are significantly associated with distant metastasis and poor outcome in breast cancer patients. Here, we show that SOX11 confers distinct features to ER-negative DCIS.com breast cancer cells, leading to populations enriched with highly plastic hybrid epithelial/mesenchymal cells, which display invasive features and alterations in metastatic tropism when xenografted into mice. We found that SOX11+DCIS tumour cells metastasize to brain and bone at greater frequency and to lungs at lower frequency compared to cells with lower SOX11 levels. High levels of SOX11 leads to the expression of markers associated with mesenchymal state and embryonic cellular phenotypes. Our results suggest that SOX11 may be a potential biomarker for breast tumours with elevated risk of developing metastases and may require more aggressive therapies.
Endocrine control mechanisms
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eLife, 2020, 9