Heparanase, the sole heparan sulfate degrading endoglycosidase, regulates multiple biological activities that enhance tumor growth, angiogenesis and metastasis. Much of the impact of heparanase on tumor progression is related to its function in mediating tumor-host crosstalk, priming the tumor microenvironment to better support tumor growth and metastasis. We have utilized mice over-expressing (Hpa-tg) heparanase to reveal the role of host heparanase in tumor initiation, growth and metastasis. While in wild type mice tumor development in response to DMBA carcinogenesis was restricted to the mammary gland, Hpa-tg mice developed tumors also in their lungs and liver, associating with reduced survival of the tumor-bearing mice. Consistently, xenograft tumors (lymphoma, melanoma, lung carcinoma, pancreatic carcinoma) transplanted in Hpa-tg mice exhibited accelerated tumor growth and shorter survival of the tumor-bearing mice compared with wild type mice. Hpa-tg mice were also more prone to the development of metastases following intravenous or subcutaneous injection of tumor cells. In some models, the growth advantage was associated with infiltration of heparanase-high host cells into the tumors. However, in other models, heparanase-high host cells were not detected in the primary tumor, implying that the growth advantage in Hpa-tg mice is due to systemic factors. Indeed, we found that plasma from Hpa-tg mice enhanced tumor cell migration and invasion attributed to increased levels of pro-tumorigenic factors (i.e., RANKL, SPARC, MIP-2) in the plasma of Hpa-Tg vs. wild type mice. Furthermore, tumor aggressiveness and short survival time were demonstrated in wild type mice transplanted with bone marrow derived from Hpa-tg but not wild type mice. These results were attributed, among other factors, to upregulation of pro-tumorigenic (i.e., IL35) and downregulation of anti-tumorigenic (i.e., IFN-γ) T-cell subpopulations in the spleen, lymph nodes and blood of Hpa-tg vs. wild type mice and their increased infiltration into the primary tumor. Collectively, our results emphasize the significance of host heparanase in mediating the pro-tumorigenic and pro-metastatic interactions between the tumor cells and the host tumor microenvironment, immune cells and systemic factors.
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