Mena invasive (MenaINV) and Mena11a isoforms play distinct roles in breast cancer cell cohesion and association with TMEM

Evanthia T. Roussos, Sumanta Goswami, Michele Balsamo, Yarong Wang, Robert Stobezki, Esther Adler, Brian D. Robinson, Joan G. Jones, Frank B. Gertler, John S. Condeelis, Maja H. Oktay

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Scopus citations


Mena, an actin regulatory protein, functions at the convergence of motility pathways that drive breast cancer cell invasion and migration in vivo. The tumor microenvironment spontaneously induces both increased expression of the Mena invasive (MenaINV) and decreased expression of Mena11a isoforms in invasive and migratory tumor cells. Tumor cells with this Mena expression pattern participate with macrophages in migration and intravasation in mouse mammary tumors in vivo. Consistent with these findings, anatomical sites containing tumor cells with high levels of Mena expression associated with perivascular macrophages were identified in human invasive ductal breast carcinomas and called TMEM. The number of TMEM sites positively correlated with the development of distant metastasis in humans. Here we demonstrate that mouse mammary tumors generated from EGFP-MenaINV expressing tumor cells are significantly less cohesive and have discontinuous cell-cell contacts compared to Mena11a xenografts. Using the mouse PyMT model we show that metastatic mammary tumors express 8.7 fold more total Mena and 7.5 fold more Mena INV mRNA than early non-metastatic ones. Furthermore, Mena INV expression in fine needle aspiration biopsy (FNA) samples of human invasive ductal carcinomas correlate with TMEM score while Mena11a does not. These results suggest that MenaINV is the isoform associated with breast cancer cell discohesion, invasion and intravasation in mice and in humans. They also imply that MenaINV expression and TMEM score measure related aspects of a common tumor cell dissemination mechanism and provide new insight into metastatic risk.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)515-527
Number of pages13
JournalClinical and Experimental Metastasis
Issue number6
StatePublished - Aug 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Breast cancer
  • Cell motility
  • Intravasation
  • Metastasis
  • TMEM

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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