Due to the heterogeneity and high frequency of genome mutations in cancer cells, targeting vital protumour factors found in stromal cells in the tumour microenvironment may represent an ideal strategy in cancer therapy. However, the regulation and mechanisms of potential targetable therapeutic candidates need to be investigated. An in vivo study demonstrated that loss of pentraxin 3 (PTX3) in stromal cells significantly decreased the metastasis and growth of cancer cells. Clinically, our results indicate that stromal PTX3 expression correlates with adverse prognostic features and is associated with worse survival outcomes in triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC). We also found that transforming growth factor beta 1 (TGF-β1) induces PTX3 expression by activating the transcription factor CCAAT/enhancer binding protein delta (CEBPD) in stromal fibroblasts. Following PTX3 stimulation, CD44, a PTX3 receptor, activates the downstream ERK1/2, AKT and NF-κB pathways to specifically contribute to the metastasis/invasion and stemness of TNBC MDA-MB-231 cells. Two types of PTX3 inhibitors were developed to disrupt the PTX3/CD44 interaction and they showed a significant effect on attenuating growth and restricting the metastasis/invasion of MDA-MB-231 cells, suggesting that targeting the PTX3/CD44 interaction could be a new strategy for future TNBC therapies.
© 2022 The Authors. Clinical and Translational Medicine published by John Wiley & Sons Australia, Ltd on behalf of Shanghai Institute of Clinical Bioinformatics.