Clinical & Experimental Metastasis

, Volume 21, Issue 5, pp 461–467 | Cite as

Cellular mechanisms mediating the anti-invasive properties of the ornithine decarboxylase inhibitor α-difluoromethylornithine (DFMO) in human breast cancer cells

  • Andrea Manni
  • Sharlene Washington
  • David Mauger
  • Deborah A. Hackett
  • Michael F. Verderame


We have shown that inhibition of polyamine biosynthesis with α-difluoromethylornithine (DFMO) reduces in vitro invasiveness and metastatic capacity of MDA-MB-435 breast cancer cells. These experiments investigated the mechanisms mediating the anti-invasive properties of DFMO. DFMO did not affect phosphorylation of FAK or Akt, but increased ERK phosphorylation by approximately threefold. To test the biologic significance of this finding, we tested the effect of the MEK inhibitor PD98059 on in vitro invasiveness of MDA-MB-435 breast cancer cells, both in the absence and in the presence of the proinvasive peptide hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) as a chemoattractant. We observed that PD98059 treatment reversed the anti-invasive effect of DFMO under both experimental conditions. Next, we tested the influence of DFMO on the production of the prometastatic peptide osteopontin (OPN) and the anti-metastatic protein thrombospondin-1 (TSP-1). DFMO treatment, while not affecting OPN production, markedly increased the TSP-1 level in the conditioned media. This effect was abolished by putrescine administration, thus indicating the specificity of the DFMO action through the polyamine pathway. PD98059 completely blocked the stimulatory effect of DFMO on TSP-1 production, which supports a mediatory role for activation of the MAPK pathway in the upregulation of this anti-metastatic peptide by DFMO. In summary, our results show that the increase in ERK phosphorylation induced by DFMO plays a critical role in the anti-invasive action of the drug and in its ability to upregulate TSP-1 production.


breast cancer invasiveness polyamines signal transduction 



ornithine decarboxylase




extracellular signal-regulated kinase


mitogen-activated protein kinase


MAP/ERK kinase-1




thrombospondin 1


hepatocyte growth factor


focal adhesion kinase


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Andrea Manni
    • 1
  • Sharlene Washington
    • 1
  • David Mauger
    • 2
  • Deborah A. Hackett
    • 1
  • Michael F. Verderame
    • 1
  1. 1.Departmnt of Medicine and Health Evaluation SciencesThe Pennsylvania State University College of MedicineHersheyUSA
  2. 2.Health Evaluation SciencesThe Pennsylvania State University College of MedicineHersheyUSA

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