Cancer Cell Migration: Integrated Roles of Matrix Mechanics and Transforming Potential
Significant progress has been achieved toward elucidating the molecular mechanisms that underlie breast cancer progression; yet, much less is known about the associated cellular biophysical traits. To this end, we use time-lapsed confocal microscopy to investigate the interplay among cell motility, three-dimensional (3D) matrix stiffness, matrix architecture, and transforming potential in a mammary epithelial cell (MEC) cancer progression series. We use a well characterized breast cancer progression model where human-derived MCF10A MECs overexpress either ErbB2, 14-3-3ζ, or both ErbB2 and 14-3-3ζ, with empty vector as a control. Cell motility assays showed that MECs overexpressing ErbB2 alone exhibited notably high migration speeds when cultured atop two-dimensional (2D) matrices, while overexpression of 14-3-3ζ alone most suppressed migration atop 2D matrices (as compared to non-transformed MECs). Our results also suggest that co-overexpression of the 14-3-3ζ and ErbB2 proteins facilitates cell migratory capacity in 3D matrices, as reflected in cell migration speed. Additionally, 3D matrices of sufficient stiffness can significantly hinder the migratory ability of partially transformed cells, but increased 3D matrix stiffness has a lesser effect on the aggressive migratory behavior exhibited by fully transformed cells that co-overexpress both ErbB2 and 14-3-3ζ. Finally, this study shows that for MECs possessing partial or full transforming potential, those overexpressing ErbB2 alone show the greatest sensitivity of cell migration speed to matrix architecture, while those overexpressing 14-3-3ζ alone exhibit the least sensitivity to matrix architecture. Given the current knowledge of breast cancer mechanobiology, these findings overall suggest that cell motility is governed by a complex interplay between matrix mechanics and transforming potential.