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01.12.2017 | Research article | Ausgabe 1/2017 Open Access

BMC Cancer 1/2017

Tartrate-resistant acid phosphatase (TRAP/ACP5) promotes metastasis-related properties via TGFβ2/TβR and CD44 in MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cells

BMC Cancer > Ausgabe 1/2017
Anja Reithmeier, Elena Panizza, Michael Krumpel, Lukas M. Orre, Rui M. M. Branca, Janne Lehtiö, Barbro Ek-Rylander, Göran Andersson
Wichtige Hinweise

Electronic supplementary material

The online version of this article doi:(10.​1186/​s12885-017-3616-7) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.



Tartrate-resistant acid phosphatase (TRAP/ACP5), a metalloenzyme that is characteristic for its expression in activated osteoclasts and in macrophages, has recently gained considerable focus as a driver of metastasis and was associated with clinically relevant parameters of cancer progression and cancer aggressiveness.


MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cells with different TRAP expression levels (overexpression and knockdown) were generated and characterized for protein expression and activity levels. Functional cell experiments, such as proliferation, migration and invasion assays were performed as well as global phosphoproteomic and proteomic analysis was conducted to connect molecular perturbations to the phenotypic changes.


We identified an association between metastasis-related properties of TRAP-overexpressing MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cells and a TRAP-dependent regulation of Transforming growth factor (TGFβ) pathway proteins and Cluster of differentiation 44 (CD44). Overexpression of TRAP increased anchorage-independent and anchorage-dependent cell growth and proliferation, induced a more elongated cellular morphology and promoted cell migration and invasion. Migration was increased in the presence of the extracellular matrix (ECM) proteins osteopontin and fibronectin and the basement membrane proteins collagen IV and laminin I. TRAP-induced properties were reverted upon shRNA-mediated knockdown of TRAP or treatment with the small molecule TRAP inhibitor 5-PNA. Global phosphoproteomics and proteomics analyses identified possible substrates of TRAP phosphatase activity or signaling intermediates and outlined a TRAP-dependent regulation of proteins involved in cell adhesion and ECM organization. Upregulation of TGFβ isoform 2 (TGFβ2), TGFβ receptor type 1 (TβR1) and Mothers against decapentaplegic homolog 2 (SMAD2), as well as increased intracellular phosphorylation of CD44 were identified upon TRAP perturbation. Functional antibody-mediated blocking and chemical inhibition demonstrated that TRAP-dependent migration and proliferation is regulated via TGFβ2/TβR, whereas proliferation beyond basal levels is regulated through CD44.


Altogether, TRAP promotes metastasis-related cell properties in MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cells via TGFβ2/TβR and CD44, thereby identifying a potential signaling mechanism associated to TRAP action in breast cancer cells.
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