TFPI1 Mediates Resistance to Doxorubicin in Breast Cancer Cells by Inducing a Hypoxic-Like ResponseReport as inadecuate

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Thrombin and hypoxia are important players in breast cancer progression. Breast cancers often develop drug resistance, but mechanisms linking thrombin and hypoxia to drug resistance remain unresolved. Our studies using Doxorubicin DOX resistant MCF7 breast cancer cells reveals a mechanism linking DOX exposure with hypoxic induction of DOX resistance. Global expression changes between parental and DOX resistant MCF7 cells were examined. Westerns, Northerns and immunocytochemistry were used to validate drug resistance and differentially expressed genes. A cluster of genes involved in the anticoagulation pathway, with Tissue Factor Pathway Inhibitor 1 TFPI1 the top hit, was identified. Plasmids overexpressing TFPI1 were utilized, and 1% O2 was used to test the effects of hypoxia on drug resistance. Lastly, microarray datasets from patients with drug resistant breast tumors were interrogated for TFPI1 expression levels. TFPI1 protein levels were found elevated in 3 additional DOX resistant cells lines, from humans and rats, indicating evolutionarily conservation of the effect. Elevated TFPI1 in DOX resistant cells was active, as thrombin protein levels were coincidentally low. We observed elevated HIF1α protein in DOX resistant cells, and in cells with forced expression of TFPI1, suggesting TFPI1 induces HIF1α. TFPI1 also induced c-MYC, c-SRC, and HDAC2 protein, as well as DOX resistance in parental cells. Growth of cells in 1% O2 induced elevated HIF1α, BCRP and MDR-1 protein, and these cells were resistant to DOX. Our in vitro results were consistent with in vivo patient datasets, as tumors harboring increased BCRP and MDR-1 expression also had increased TFPI1 expression. Our observations are clinically relevant indicating that DOX treatment induces an anticoagulation cascade, leading to inhibition of thrombin and the expression of HIF1α. This in turn activates a pathway leading to drug resistance.

Author: Gerald F. Davies, Arnie Berg, Spike D. L. Postnikoff, Heather L. Wilson, Terra G. Arnason, Anthony Kusalik, Troy A. A. Harkness



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