Bárbara Sousa

University of Porto, Porto, Distrito do Porto, Portugal

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Publications (20)73.53 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: P-cadherin is a classical cell-cell adhesion molecule that, in contrast to E-cadherin, has a positive role in breast cancer progression, being considered a poor prognostic factor in this disease. In previous reports, we have shown that this protein induces cancer stem cell and invasive properties to basal-like breast cancer cells. Here, we clarify the downstream signaling pathways that are triggered by P-cadherin to mediate these effects. We demonstrated that P-cadherin inhibition led to a significant decreased adhesion of cancer cells to the basement membrane substrate laminin, as well as to a major reduction in the expression of the laminin receptor α6β4 integrin. Remarkably, the expression of this heterodimer was required for the invasive capacity and increased mammosphere forming efficiency induced by P-cadherin expression. Moreover, we showed that P-cadherin transcriptionally up-regulates the α6 integrin subunit expression and directly interacts with the β4 integrin subunit. We still showed that P-cadherin downstream signaling, in response to laminin, involves the activation of focal adhesion (FAK), Src and AKT kinases. The association between the expression of P-cadherin, α6β4 heterodimer and the active FAK and Src phosphorylated forms was validated in vivo. Our data establish that there is a crosstalk between P-cadherin and the laminin receptor α6β4 integrin signaling pathway, which link has never been previously described. The activation of this heterodimer explains the stem cell and invasive properties induced by P-cadherin to breast cancer cells, pointing to a new molecular mechanism that may be targeted to counteract the effects induced by this adhesion molecule.
    Oncotarget 01/2014; · 6.64 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The progression from in situ to invasive breast carcinoma is still an event poorly understood. However, it has been suggested that interactions between the neoplastic cells and the tumor microenvironment may play an important role in this process. Thus, the determination of differential tumor-stromal metabolic interactions could be an important step in invasiveness. The expression of stromal Caveolin-1 (Cav-1) has already been implicated in the progression from ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) to invasive ductal carcinoma (IDC). Additionally, stromal Cav-1 expression has been associated with the expression of stromal monocarboxylate transporter 4 (MCT4) in invasive breast cancer. However, the role of stromal MCT4 in invasiveness has never been explored, neither the association between Cav-1 and MCT4 in the transition from breast DCIS to IDC. Therefore, our aim was to investigate in a series of breast cancer samples including matched in situ and invasive components, if there was a relationship between stromal Cav-1 and MCT4 in the progression from in situ to invasive carcinoma. We found loss of stromal Cav-1 in the progression to IDC in 75% of the cases. In contrast, MCT4 stromal expression was acquired in 87% of the IDCs. Interestingly, a concomitant loss of Cav-1 and gain of MCT4 was observed in the stroma of 75% of the cases, when matched in situ and invasive carcinomas were compared. These results suggest that alterations in Cav-1 and MCT4 may thus mark a critical point in the progression from in situ to invasive breast cancer.
    Cell cycle (Georgetown, Tex.) 07/2013; 12(16). · 5.24 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: P-cadherin is a cell-cell adhesion molecule codified by the CDH3 gene, which expression is highly associated with undifferentiated cells in normal adult epithelial tissues, as well as with poorly differentiated carcinomas. In breast cancer, P-cadherin is frequently overexpressed in high-grade tumours and is a well-established indicator of aggressive tumour behaviour and poor patient prognosis. However, till now, the mechanisms controlling CDH3 gene activation have been poorly explored. Since we recently described the existence of several CCAAT/Enhancer Binding Protein β (C/EBPβ) transcription factor binding sites at the CDH3 promoter, the aim of this study was to assess if the distinct C/EBPβ isoforms were directly involved in the transcriptional activation of the CDH3 gene in breast cancer cells. DNA-protein interactions, mutation analysis and luciferase reporter assay studies have been performed. We demonstrated that C/EBPβ is co-expressed with P-cadherin in breast cancer cells and all the three isoforms function as transcriptional regulators of the CDH3 gene, directly interacting with specific regions of its promoter. Interestingly, this transcriptional activation was only reflected at the P-cadherin protein level concerning the LIP isoform. Taken together, our data show that CDH3 is a newly defined transcriptional target gene of C/EBPβ isoforms in breast cancer, and we also identified the binding sites that are relevant for this activation.
    PLoS ONE 01/2013; 8(2):e55749. · 3.73 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: P-cadherin overexpression is associated with worse breast cancer survival, being a prognostic marker, as well as a putative therapeutic target for the aggressive triple-negative and basal-like carcinomas (TNBC). Previously, we have shown that P-cadherin promotes breast cancer invasion of cells where membrane E-cadherin was maintained; however, it suppresses invasion in models without endogenous cadherins, like melanomas. Here, we investigated if P-cadherin expression would interfere with the normal adhesion complex and which were the cellular/molecular consequences, constituting, in this way, a new mechanism by which E-cadherin invasive-suppressor function was disrupted. Using breast TNBC models, we demonstrated, for the first time, that P-cadherin co-localizes with E-cadherin, promoting cell invasion due to the disruption caused in the interaction between E-cadherin and cytoplasmic catenins. P-cadherin also induces cell migration and survival, modifying the expression profile of cells expressing wild-type E-cadherin and contributing to alter their cellular behavior. Additionally, E- and P-cadherin co-expressing cells significantly enhanced in vivo tumor growth, compared with cells expressing only E- or only P-cadherin. Finally, we still found that co-expression of both molecules was significantly correlated with high-grade breast carcinomas, biologically aggressive and with poor patient survival, being a strong prognostic factor in this disease. Our results show a role for E- and P-cadherin co-expression in breast cancer progression and highlight the potential benefit of targeting P-cadherin in the aggressive tumors expressing high levels of this protein. Copyright © 2012 Pathological Society of Great Britain and Ireland. Published by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
    The Journal of Pathology 11/2012; · 7.59 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The gene encoding protein kinase WNK2 was recently identified to be silenced by promoter hypermethylation in gliomas and meningiomas, suggesting a tumour-suppressor role in these brain tumours. Following experimental depletion in cell lines, WNK2 was further found to control GTP-loading of Rac1, a signalling guanosine triphosphatase involved in cell migration and motility. Here we show that WNK2 promoter methylation also occurs in 17.5% (29 out of 166) of adult gliomas, whereas it is infrequent in its paediatric forms (1.6%; 1 out of 66). Re-expression of WNK2 in glioblastoma cells presenting WNK2 gene silencing reduced cell proliferation in vitro, tumour growth in vivo and also cell migration and invasion, an effect correlated with reduced activation of Rac1. In contrast, when endogenous WNK2 was depleted from glioblastoma cells with unmethylated WNK2 promoter, changes in cell morphology, an increase in invasion and activation of Rac1 were observed. Together, these results validate the WNK2 gene as a recurrent target for epigenetic silencing in glia-derived brain tumours and provide first mechanistic evidence for a tumour-suppressing role of WNK2 that is related to Rac1 signalling and tumour cell invasion and proliferation.
    Human Molecular Genetics 10/2012; · 7.69 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The triple-negative subgroup of breast cancer includes a cluster of tumors exhibiting low E-cadherin expression (metaplastic carcinomas). In several cancer models, 1 alpha,25-dihydroxyvitamin D(3) (1α,25(OH)(2)D(3)) induces differentiation by increasing E-cadherin expression. The Vitamin D receptor (VDR) was evaluated as a possible therapeutic target for metaplastic carcinomas and 1α,25(OH)(2)D(3) effects as a differentiating agent in triple-negative breast cancer cells were assessed. Metaplastic carcinomas were assessed for VDR expression by immunohistochemistry; differences in E-cadherin expression in triple-negative breast cancer cells were evaluated by real-time PCR, western blotting and Cadherin 1 (CDH1) methylation status. Most of the metaplastic carcinomas were positive for VDR expression. Furthermore, 1α,25(OH)(2)D(3) promoted differentiation of MDA-MB-231 cells by inducing de novo E-cadherin expression, an effect that was time- and dose-dependent. Also, E-cadherin expression was due to promoter demethylation. Metaplastic carcinomas may respond to 1α,25(OH)(2)D(3), since they express VDR and 1α,25(OH)(2)D(3) induces de novo E-cadherin expression in breast cancer cells by promoter demethylation.
    Anticancer research 01/2012; 32(1):249-57. · 1.71 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The goal of the present work was to evaluate the correlation of glucose transporter 1 (GLUT1) and carbonic anhydrase IX (CAIX) with the monocarboxylate transporters 1 (MCT1) and 4 (MCT4) and their chaperone, CD147, in breast cancer. The clinico-pathological value of GLUT1 and CAIX was also evaluated. For that, we analysed the immunohistochemical expression of GLUT1 and CAIX, in a large series of invasive breast carcinoma samples (n=124), previously characterized for MCT1, MCT4 and CD147 expression. GLUT1 expression was found in 46% of the cases (57/124), while CAIX was found in 18% of the cases (22/122). Importantly, both MCT1 and CD147, but not MCT4, were associated with GLUT1 and CAIX expression. Also, GLUT1 and CAIX correlated with each other. Concerning the clinico-pathological values, GLUT1 was associated with high grade tumours, basal-like subtype, absence of progesterone receptor, presence of vimentin and high proliferative index as measured by Ki-67. Additionally, CAIX was associated with large tumour size, high histological grade, basal-like subtype, absence of estrogen and progesterone receptors and presence of basal cytokeratins and vimentin expression. Finally, patients with CAIX positive tumours had a significantly shorter disease-free survival. The association between MCT1 and both GLUT1 and CAIX may result from hypoxia-mediated metabolic adaptations, which confer a glycolytic, acid-resistant and more aggressive phenotype to cancer cells.
    Histology and histopathology 10/2011; 26(10):1279-86. · 2.28 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The current system of pathologic classification of human breast cancers does not take into account the biologic determinants of prognosis, nor is there a consensus regarding the progression from in situ to invasive carcinoma. The present study compared the molecular phenotypes of in situ and invasive components of breast cancer in the same sample. We built a series of 189 in situ and invasive carcinomas using tissue microarrays and classified them according to their immunoprofiles regarding estrogen receptor, progesterone receptor, human epidermal growth factor receptor 2, epidermal growth factor receptor, cytokeratin 5, P-cadherin, and the antigen Ki-67 into luminal A and B, human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 overexpressing, and basal-like carcinomas. We also correlated the subgroups of carcinomas with some of the classical prognostic factors such as histologic grade, tumor size, and lymph node metastasis, as well as with the age of the patient at diagnosis. The overall concordance on the molecular phenotypes between in situ and invasive components was 94%. For the in situ component, 63% of the cases were luminal A; 15%, luminal B; 12%, human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 overexpressing; and 7%, basal-like. Regarding the invasive component, 61% of the cases were luminal A; 16%, luminal B; 12%, human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 overexpressing; and 8%, basal-like. The present study allowed the identification of different immunoprofiles of in situ and invasive breast carcinomas using a specific panel of biomarkers and showed that in most cases, there is a concordance between in situ and invasive component profiles, supporting the theory of parallel disease in breast tumorigenesis.
    Human pathology 03/2011; 42(10):1438-46. · 3.03 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: P-cadherin is a cell-cell adhesion molecule, whose expression is highly associated with undifferentiated cells in normal adult epithelial tissues, as well as with poorly differentiated carcinomas. Its expression has been already reported in human embryonic stem cells and it is presumed to be a marker of stem or progenitor cells of some epithelial tissues. In normal breast, P-cadherin has an essential role during ductal mammary branching, being expressed by the monolayer of epithelial cap cells at the end buds. In mature mammary tissue, its expression is restricted to the myoepithelium; it has been postulated that it may also be present in early luminal progenitor cells. In breast cancer, P-cadherin is frequently overexpressed in high-grade tumours, being a well-established indicator of poor patient prognosis. It has been reported as an important inducer of cancer cell migration and invasion, with underlying molecular mechanisms involving the signalling mediated by its juxtamembrane domain, the secretion of matrix metalloproteases to the extracellular media, and the cleavage of a P-cadherin soluble form with pro-invasive activity. Intracellularly, this protein interferes with the endogenous cadherin/catenin complex, inducing p120-catenin delocalization to the cytoplasm, and the consequent activation of Rac1/Cdc42 and associated alterations in the actin cytoskeleton. Considering P-cadherin's role in cancer cell invasion and metastasis formation, a humanized monoclonal antibody was recently produced to antagonize P-cadherin-associated signalling pathways, which is currently under Phase I clinical trials. In this review, the most important findings about the role of P-cadherin in normal breast development and cancer will be illustrated and discussed, with emphasis on the most recent data.
    The International journal of developmental biology 01/2011; 55(7-9):811-22. · 2.16 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The most suitable immunohistochemical criterion to identify basal-like breast carcinomas (BLBC), a molecular subgroup of breast cancer associated with poor prognosis, is the triple negative phenotype along with CK5 and/or EGFR immunoreactivity. However, several putative basal markers have been suggested as alternatives to identify BLBC with more accuracy. The expression of CK5, EGFR, P-cadherin, CK14, Vimentin and p63 were evaluated in 462 invasive breast carcinomas to determine their sensitivity and specificity for BLBC identification. P-cadherin and CK5 showed higher sensitivity values, while EGFR, Vimentin and CK14 were the most specific markers. The combination of CK5 with P-cadherin, Vimentin or CK14 proved to be a reliable option for distinguishing the basal phenotype, compared to the "gold standard" pair CK5/EGFR. Furthermore, P-cadherin was still able to recognize a large number of putative BLBC among the "unclassified" group (ER-/PR-/HER2-/CK5-/EGFR-). P-cadherin, Vimentin and CK14 can recognize BLBC already identified in triple negative/ CK5 and/or EGFR+ tumors, and due to P-cadherin sensitivity for BLBC identification this marker can reliably recruit a large number of breast carcinomas with basal phenotype among immunohistochemistry triple negative/ CK5 and/or EGFR - pool of tumors. Although they need GEP validation, our results can introduce the idea of these markers as additional options in the daily workup of breast pathology laboratories to identify BLBC.
    Histology and histopathology 08/2010; 25(8):963-74. · 2.28 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Monocarboxylate transporters (MCTs) have been considered promising targets for cancer therapy, since they facilitate lactate efflux in glycolytic tumours. However, their role in solid tumours is still poorly understood. Thus, the present work aimed to contribute to understanding the involvement of MCT1 and MCT4 in breast cancer progression as well as MCT regulation by CD147. The expression of the membrane transporters MCT1 and MCT4 was analysed in a series of breast carcinomas (249 cases) and their clinicopathological significance investigated. Additionally, we analysed the significance of CD147 co-expression, as an important regulator of MCT expression and activity. MCT1 was significantly increased in breast carcinomas when compared with normal breast tissue and, importantly, both MCT1 and CD147 were associated with poor prognostic variables such as basal-like subtype and high grade tumours. These results provide evidence for a prognostic value of MCT1 in breast carcinoma and support the exploitation of the complex MCT1/CD147 as a promising target for cancer therapy, especially in basal-like breast carcinoma.
    Histopathology 06/2010; 56(7):860-7. · 2.86 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: CDH3/P-cadherin is a classical cadherin. Overexpression of which has been associated with proliferative lesions of high histological grade, decreased cell polarity and poor survival of patients with breast cancer. In vitro studies showed that it can be up-regulated by ICI 182,780, suggesting that the lack of ERalpha signalling is responsible for the aberrant P-cadherin overexpression and for its role in inducing breast cancer cell invasion and migration. However, the mechanism by which ER-signalling inhibition leads to P-cadherin expression is still unknown. The aim of this study was to explore the molecular mechanism linking the ERalpha-signalling and P-cadherin-regulated expression in breast cancer cell lines. This study showed that ICI 182,780 is able to increase CDH3 promoter activity, inducing high levels of the active chromatin mark H3 lysine 4 dimethylation. We also observed, for the first time, that the transcription factor C/EBPbeta is able to up-regulate CDH3 promoter activity in breast cancer cells. Moreover, we showed that the expression of P-cadherin and C/EBPbeta are highly associated in human breast carcinomas and linked with a worse prognosis of breast cancer patients. This study demonstrates the existence of an epigenetic regulation by which ICI 182,780 up-regulates P-cadherin expression in MCF-7/AZ breast cancer cells through chromatin remodelling at CDH3 promoter, bringing forward the growing evidence that ERalpha signalling-abrogation by anti-oestrogens is able to induce the expression of ERalpha-repressed genes which, in the appropriate cell biology context, may contribute to a breast cancer cell invasion phenotype.CDH3 GenBank accession no. NT_010498.
    Human Molecular Genetics 04/2010; 19(13):2554-66. · 7.69 Impact Factor
  • Ejc Supplements - EJC SUPPL. 01/2010; 8(5):120-120.
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    ABSTRACT: Breast cancer is a heterogeneous disease associated with different patient prognosis and responses to therapy. Vitamin D has been emerging as a potential treatment for cancer, as it has been demonstrated that it modulates proliferation, apoptosis, invasion and metastasis, among others. It acts mostly through the Vitamin D receptor (VDR) and the synthesis and degradation of this hormone are regulated by the enzymes CYP27B1 and CYP24A1, respectively. We aimed to study the expression of these three proteins by immunohistochemistry in a series of breast lesions. We have used a cohort comprising normal breast, benign mammary lesions, carcinomas in situ and invasive carcinomas and assessed the expression of the VDR, CYP27B1 and CYP24A1 by immunohistochemistry. The results that we have obtained show that all proteins are expressed in the various breast tissues, although at different amounts. The VDR was frequently expressed in benign lesions (93.5%) and its levels of expression were diminished in invasive tumours (56.2%). Additionally, the VDR was strongly associated with the oestrogen receptor positivity in breast carcinomas. CYP27B1 expression is slightly lower in invasive carcinomas (44.6%) than in benign lesions (55.8%). In contrast, CYP24A1 expression was augmented in carcinomas (56.0% in in situ and 53.7% in invasive carcinomas) when compared with that in benign lesions (19.0%). From this study, we conclude that there is a deregulation of the Vitamin D signalling and metabolic pathways in breast cancer, favouring tumour progression. Thus, during mammary malignant transformation, tumour cells lose their ability to synthesize the active form of Vitamin D and respond to VDR-mediated Vitamin D effects, while increasing their ability to degrade this hormone.
    BMC Cancer 01/2010; 10:483. · 3.33 Impact Factor
  • Ejc Supplements - EJC SUPPL. 01/2010; 8(5):131-132.
  • Ejc Supplements - EJC SUPPL. 01/2010; 8(5):101-101.
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    ABSTRACT: Cell-cell adhesion is an elementary process in normal epithelial cellular architecture. Several studies have shown the role mediated by cadherins in this process, besides their role in the maintenance of cell polarity, differentiation and cell growth. However, during tumour progression, these molecules are frequently altered. In breast cancer, tumours that overexpress P-cadherin usually present a high histological grade, show decreased cell polarity and are associated with worse patient survival. However, little is known about how this protein dictates the very aggressive behaviour of these tumours. To achieve this goal, we set up two breast cancer cell models, where P-cadherin expression was differently modulated and analysed in terms of cell invasion, motility and migration. We show that P-cadherin overexpression, in breast cancer cells with wild-type E-cadherin, promotes cell invasion, motility and migration. Moreover, we found that the overexpression of P-cadherin induces the secretion of matrix metalloproteases, specifically MMP-1 and MMP-2, which then lead to P-cadherin ectodomain cleavage. Further, we showed that soluble P-cadherin fragment is able to induce in vitro invasion of breast cancer cells. Overall, our results contribute to elucidate the mechanism underlying the invasive behaviour of P-cadherin expressing breast tumours.
    Oncogene 11/2009; 29(3):392-402. · 8.56 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: To evaluate the relationship between microvessel density assessed by endoglin expression and the molecular subtypes of human invasive breast carcinomas and whether there is evidence to indicate that angiogenesis could be a putative target for therapy in specific subsets of breast cancer. We studied a series of 161 breast carcinomas, but information was available on only 142 tumours. We correlated endoglin expression with distinct breast carcinoma subgroups classified according to immunohistochemical profiling. Additionally, we compared it with other biomarkers for the aggressive basal-like subset and with available histopathological data. Although the basal-like subtype has higher microvessel density, there are no significant differences with the other molecular subtypes of breast cancer. This study found no significant differences in tumour vascularity in different molecular subtypes of breast cancer.
    Histopathology 11/2009; 55(5):594-9. · 2.86 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The expression of additional genes, other than oestrogen receptor (ER), may be important to the hormone-responsive phenotype of breast cancer. Microarray analyses have revealed that forkhead box A1 (FOXA1) and GATA binding protein 3 (GATA-3) are expressed in close association with ERalpha, both encoding for transcription factors with a potential involvement in the ERalpha-mediated action in breast cancer. The purpose of this study was to explore if the expression of FOXA1 and GATA-3 may provide an opportunity to stratify subsets of patients that could have better outcome, among the ERalpha-negative/poor prognosis breast cancer group. We evaluate FOXA1 and GATA-3 expression in 249 breast carcinomas by immunohistochemistry, associating it with breast cancer molecular markers, clinicopathological features and patient's survival. The clinicopathological features and immunohistochemical markers of the tumours were compared using the chi-square test and ANOVA. Disease-free survival was analysed through Kaplan-Meier survival curves and Cox regression. FOXA1 expression was demonstrated in 42% of invasive carcinomas, while GATA-3 was detected in 48% of the cases. FOXA1 expression was inversely associated with tumour size, Nottingham Prognostic Index, histological grade, lymph vascular invasion, lymph node stage and human epidermal growth factor receptor-2 (HER-2) overexpression, while GATA-3 expression showed inverse association with histological grade and HER-2. Both FOXA1 and GATA-3 were directly associated with ERalpha and progesterone receptor. Among FOXA1-positive tumours, 83.1% are comprised in the luminal A subtype, similar to GATA-3 where 87.7% of positive tumours were classified within this molecular subtype. In the subset of ERalpha-negative patients, those who were FOXA1-negative had a 3.61-fold increased risk of breast cancer recurrence when compared with the FOXA1-positive. FOXA1 was a significant predictor of good outcome in breast cancer, whereas GATA-3 was an important luminal marker. The expression of FOXA1 may be used for risk stratification among ERalpha-negative patients.
    Breast cancer research: BCR 07/2009; 11(3):R40. · 5.87 Impact Factor
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    The Open Breast Cancer Journal 01/2009; 1(1):1-9.

Publication Stats

224 Citations
73.53 Total Impact Points

Institutions

  • 2010–2013
    • University of Porto
      • Institute of Molecular Pathology and Immunology (IPATIMUP)
      Porto, Distrito do Porto, Portugal
  • 2009–2010
    • University of Minho
      • Life and Health Sciences Research Institute
      Braga, Distrito de Braga, Portugal