Stromal fibroblast-derived MFAP5 promotes the invasion and migration of breast cancer cells via Notch1/slug signaling

  • Z. Chen
  • X. Yan
  • K. Li
  • Y. Ling
  • H. KangEmail author
Research Article



The tumor microenvironment (TME) regulates tumor progression, and cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs) are the primary stromal components of the TME, with the potential to drive tumor metastasis via the secretion of paracrine factors, but the specific mechanisms driving this process have not been defined.


Proteins secreted from CAFs and normal fibroblasts (NFs) were analyzed via proteomic analysis (fold change > 2, p < 0.05) to identify tumor-promoting proteins secreted by CAFs.


Proteomic analysis revealed that microfibrillar-associated protein 5 (MFAP5) is preferentially expressed and secreted by CAFs relative to NFs, which was confirmed by Western blotting and RT-qPCR. Transwell and wound healing assays confirmed that MFAP5 is secreted by CAFs, and drives the invasion and migration of MCF7 breast cancer cells. We further found that in MCF7 cells MFAP5 promoted epithelial–mesenchymal transition, activating Notch1 signaling and consequently upregulating NICD1 and slug. When Notch1 was knocked down in MCF7 cells, the ability of MFAP5 to promote invasion and migration decreased.


CAFs promote cancer cells invasion and migration via MFAP5 secretion and activation of the Notch1/slug signaling. These data highlight this pathway as a therapeutic target to disrupt tumor progression through the interference of CAF–tumor crosstalk.


Cancer-associated fibroblasts Breast cancer MFAP5 Invasion Metastasis 



This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 81172517) and Beijing Breast Prevention Institute of Breast Cancer Prevention and Treatment Research Fund and the Beijing Municipal Health System Academic Leaders of High-Level Health Personnel Program (No. 2011-2-28).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that there are no competing interests.

Ethical statement

Ethics approval has been obtained from the Institutional Review Board and the Human Ethics Committee of Xuanwu Hospital. Capital Medical University.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Federación de Sociedades Españolas de Oncología (FESEO) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of General Surgery, Xuanwu HospitalCapital Medical UniversityBeijingChina
  2. 2.School of Basic Medical SciencesCapital Medical UniversityBeijingChina

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