The Neu (ErbB2, HER2) member of the epidermal growth factor receptor family is implicated in many human breast cancers. We have tested the importance of increased angiogenic signaling in the NeuYD [mouse mammary tumor virus (MMTV)-Neundl-YD5] mammary tumor model. Transgenic mice expressing vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF)164 from the MMTV promoter were generated. These mice expressed VEGF164 RNA and protein at 20- to 40-fold higher levels throughout mammary gland development but exhibited normal mammary gland development and function. However, in combination with the NeuYD oncogene, VEGF164 expression resulted in increased vascularization of hyperplastic mammary epithelium and dramatic acceleration of tumor appearance from 111 to 51 days. Gene expression profiling also indicated that the VEGF-accelerated tumors were substantially more vascularized and less hypoxic. The preferential vascularization of early hyperplastic portions of mammary epithelia in NeuYD;MMTV-VEGF animals was associated with NeuYD RNA expression, disorganization of the tight junctions, and overlapping transgenic VEGF expression. NeuYD;MMTV-VEGF164 bigenic, tumor-bearing animals resulted in an average of 10 tumor cell colonies/lung lodged within vascular spaces. No similar lung colonies were found in control NeuYD mice with similar tumor burdens. Overall, these results demonstrate the angiogenic restriction of early hyperplastic mammary lesions. They also reinforce in vivo the importance of activated Neu in causing disorganization of mammary luminal epithelial cell junctions and provide support for an invasion-independent mechanism of metastasis.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research