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Qun Liu, Hui-ting Dong, Tingting Zhao, Fan Yao, Yingying Xu, Bo Chen, Yunfei Wu, Feng Jin, and Peng Xing

Cancer-associated adipocytes (CAAs) have been suggested to promote tumor progression. Yet, the role of CAAs in triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) is poorly investigated. We compared the expression of secretory protein-encoding genes in CAAs and control adipocytes. The effect of key secretory protein(s) on TNBC cell behaviors was explored. CAAs expressed and secreted FUCA2 at greater levels than control adipocytes. When FUCA2 activity was blocked with a neutralizing antibody, TNBC cell proliferation and migration induced by CAA-conditioned medium was impaired. In contrast, supplement of exogenous FUCA2 protein reinforced the proliferation, colony formation, and migration of TNBC cells. In vivo studies confirmed that FUCA2 exposure enhanced tumorigenesis and metastasis of TNBC cells. Mechanistic investigation revealed that FUCA2 induced TNBC aggressiveness through TM9SF3-dependent signaling. Depletion of TM9SF3 blocked CAA- and FUCA2-induced TNBC cell proliferation and migration. Compared to adjacent breast tissues, TNBC tissues had increased expression of TM9SF3. Moreover, high TM9SF3 expression was associated with advanced TNM stage, lymph node metastasis, and shorter overall survival of TNBC patients. Altogether, CAAs secrete FUCA2 to promote TNBC growth and metastasis through interaction with TM9SF3. Inhibition of TM9SF3 may represent a potential therapeutic strategy in the treatment of TNBC.

Open access

Yuanliang Li, Yiying Guo, Zixuan Cheng, Chao Tian, Yingying Chen, Ruao Chen, Fuhuan Yu, Yanfen Shi, Fei Su, Shuhua Zhao, Zhizheng Wang, Jie Luo, and Huangying Tan

The genetic characteristics of rectal neuroendocrine tumors (R-NETs) were poorly understood. Depicting the genetic characteristics may provide a biological basis for prognosis prediction and novel treatment development. Tissues of 18 R-NET patients were analyzed using whole-exome sequencing. The median tumor mutation burden (TMB) and microsatellite instability (MSI) were 1.15 Muts/MB (range, 0.03-23.28) and 0.36 (range, 0.00-10.97) respectively. Genes involved in P53 signaling, PI3K-AKT signaling, DNA damage repair, WNT signaling, etc. were frequently altered. Higher TMB (P = 0.078), higher CNV (P = 0.110), somatic mutation of CCDC168 (P = 0.049), HMCN1 (P = 0.040), MYO10 (P = 0.007), and amplification of ZC3H13 (P < 0.001) were associated with shorter OS. Potentially targetable gene alterations (PTGAs) were seen in 72% of the patients. FGFR1 amplification (22%) was the most common PTGA followed by BARD1 and BRCA2 mutation (each 17%). As for gene variations associated with the efficacy of immune checkpoint blockade (ICB), FAT1 alteration (39%) and PTEN depletion (28%) were commonly observed. In conclusion, frequently altered oncogenic pathways might contribute to the development and progression of R-NETs. Gene alterations significantly associated with prognosis might be potential novel targets. Targeted therapy might be a promising strategy as targetable alterations were prevalent in R-NETs. FAT1 alteration and PTEN depletion might be the main genetic alterations influencing the response to ICB besides overall low TMB and MSI in R-NETs.