Original Paper

Cancer Microenvironment

, 2:33

First online:

Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

Dual FGF-2 and Intergrin α5β1 Signaling Mediate GRAF-Induced RhoA Inactivation in a Model of Breast Cancer Dormancy

  • Judith BarriosAffiliated withDepartment of Medicine, UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School-University Hospital Cancer Center
  • , Robert WiederAffiliated withDepartment of Medicine, UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School-University Hospital Cancer Center Email author 


Interactions with the bone marrow stroma regulate dormancy and survival of breast cancer micrometastases. In an in vitro model of dormancy in the bone marrow, we previously demonstrated that estrogen-dependent breast cancer cells are partially re-differentiated by FGF-2, re-express integrin α5β1 lost with malignant transformation and acquire an activated PI3K/Akt pathway. Ligation of integrin α5β1 by fibronectin and activation of the PI3K pathway both contribute to survival of these dormant cells. Here, we investigated mechanisms responsible for the dormant phenotype. Experiments demonstrate that integrin α5β1 controls de novo cytoskeletal rearrangements, cell spreading, focal adhesion kinase rearrangement to the cell perimeter and recruitment of a RhoA GAP known as GRAF. This results in the inactivation of RhoA, an effect which is necessary for the stabilization of cortical actin. Experiments also demonstrate that activation of the PI3K pathway by FGF-2 is independent of integrin α5β1 and is also required for cortical actin reorganization, GRAF membrane relocalization and RhoA inactivation. These data suggest that GRAF-mediated RhoA inactivation and consequent phenotypic changes of dormancy depend on dual signaling by FGF-2-initiated PI3K activation and through ligation of integrin α5β1 by fibronectin.


Breast cancer Dormancy Fibronectin GRAF Integrin α5β1 Micrometastases PI3 kinase Rho GTPases