CCN1, a candidate target for zoledronic acid treatment in breast cancer

Ingrid Espinoza, Hong Liu, Robert Busby, Ruth Lupu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


CCN1, also known as CYR61, is a survival and proangiogenic factor overexpressed in about 30% of invasive breast carcinomas, and particularly in triple-negative breast carcinomas (TNBC). CCN1 expression in breast cancer promotes tumorigenicity, metastasis, antihormone, and chemoresistance. TNBCs often develop bone metastasis, thus the vast majority of patients receive bisphosphonate treatment as a companion to chemotherapy. Zoledronic acid (ZOL), a bisphosphonate currently in use, inhibits bone resorption, prevents development of new osteolytic lesions induced by tumor metastasis, and has a direct antitumor activity in breast cancer cells and tumors. We have shown that ZOL inhibits anchorage independent growth as well as branching and morphogenesis in CCN1 overexpressing cells. However, the mechanism is not yet well understood. In this study, we investigate the effect of ZOL in breast cancer cells with high and undetectable CCN1 expression levels. We show that CCN1-expressing cells are more sensitive to ZOL, that ZOL induces downregulation of the CCN1 promoter activity and CCN1 protein expression in a dose-dependent manner, and that ZOL is associated with a decrease in phosphorylated Akt and translocation of FOXO3a, a negative regulator of CCN1 expression, to the nucleus. Deletion of the FOXO3a binding site in the CCN1 promoter prevents ZOL inhibition of the CCN1 promoter activity showing that FOXO3a transcriptional activation is necessary for ZOL to induce CCN1 inhibition. This study provides evidence that ZOL targets the proangiogenic factor (CCN1) through FOXO3a and reveals a new mechanism of ZOL action in breast cancer cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)732-741
Number of pages10
JournalMolecular cancer therapeutics
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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