Increased expression of the tetraspanin TSPAN7 has been observed in a number of cancers; however, it is unclear how TSPAN7 plays a role in cancer progression.
We investigated the expression of TSPAN7 in the haematological malignancy multiple myleoma (MM) and assessed the consequences of TSPAN7 expression in the adhesion, migration and growth of MM plasma cells (PC) in vitro and in bone marrow (BM) homing and tumour growth in vivo. Finally, we characterised the association of TSPAN7 with cell surface partner molecules in vitro.
TSPAN7 was found to be highly expressed at the RNA and protein level in CD138(+) MM PC from approximately 50% of MM patients. TSPAN7 overexpression in the murine myeloma cell line 5TGM1 significantly reduced tumour burden in 5TGM1/KaLwRij mice 4 weeks after intravenous adminstration of 5TGM1 cells. While TSPAN7 overexpression did not affect cell proliferation in vitro, TSPAN7 increased 5TGM1 cell adhesion to BM stromal cells and transendothelial migration. In addition, TSPAN7 was found to associate with the molecular chaperone calnexin on the cell surface.
These results suggest that elevated TSPAN7 may be associated with better outcomes for up to 50% of MM patients.