Mendoza-Villanueva D, Deng W, Lopez-Camacho C, Shore P
BACKGROUND: The transcription factor Runx2 has an established role in cancers that metastasize to bone. In metastatic breast cancer cells Runx2 is overexpressed and contributes to the invasive capacity of the cells by regulating the expression of several invasion genes. CBFbeta is a transcriptional co-activator that is recruited to promoters by Runx transcription factors and there is considerable evidence that CBFbeta is essential for the function of Runx factors. However, overexpression of Runx1 can partially rescue the lethal phenotype in CBFbeta-deficient mice, indicating that increased levels of Runx factors can, in some situations, overcome the requirement for CBFbeta. Since Runx2 is overexpressed in metastatic breast cancer cells, and there are no reports of CBFbeta expression in breast cells, we sought to determine whether Runx2 function in these cells was dependent on CBFbeta. Such an interaction might represent a viable target for therapeutic intervention to inhibit bone metastasis. RESULTS: We show that CBFbeta is expressed in the metastatic breast cancer cells, MDA-MB-231, and that it associates with Runx2. Matrigel invasion assays and RNA interference were used to demonstrate that CBFbeta contributes to the invasive capacity of these cells. Subsequent analysis of Runx2 target genes in MDA-MB-231 cells revealed that CBFbeta is essential for the expression of Osteopontin, Matrixmetalloproteinase-13, Matrixmetalloproteinase-9, and Osteocalcin but not for Galectin-3. Chromatin immunoprecipitation analysis showed that CBFbeta is recruited to both the Osteopontin and the Galectin-3 promoters. CONCLUSIONS: CBFbeta is expressed in metastatic breast cancer cells and is essential for cell invasion. CBFbeta is required for expression of several Runx2-target genes known to be involved in cell invasion. However, whilst CBFbeta is essential for invasion, not all Runx2-target genes require CBFbeta. We conclude that CBFbeta is required for a subset of Runx2-target genes that are sufficient to maintain the invasive phenotype of the cells. These findings suggest that the interaction between Runx2 and CBFbeta might represent a viable target for therapeutic intervention to inhibit bone metastasis.