Osteosarcoma is the most prevalent primary bone malignancy in children and young adults. These tumors are highly metastatic, leading to poor outcome. We previously demonstrated that Cysteine-rich protein 61 (CYR61/CCN1) expression level is correlated to osteosarcoma aggressiveness in preclinical model and in patient tumor samples. The aim of the present study was to investigate the CYR61-induced intracellular mechanisms leading to the acquisition of an invasive phenotype by osteosarcoma cells.
Modified murine and human osteosarcoma cell lines were evaluated for cell adhesion, aggregation (spheroid), motility (wound healing assay), phenotypic markers expression (RT-qPCR, western blot). Cell-derived xenograft FFPE samples and patients samples (TMA) were assessed by IHC.
CYR61 levels controlled the expression of markers related to an Epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT)-like process, allowing tumor cells to migrate acquiring a competent morphology, and to be able to invade the surrounding stroma. This phenotypic shift indeed correlated with tumor grade and aggressiveness in patient samples and with the metastatic dissemination potential in cell-derived xenograft models. Unlike EGFR or PDGFR, IGF1Rß levels correlated with CYR61 and N-cadherin levels, and with the aggressiveness of osteosarcoma and overall survival. The expression levels of IGF1Rß/IGF1 axis were controlled by CYR61, and anti-IGF1 neutralizing antibody prevented the CYR61-induced phenotypic shift, aggregation, and motility abilities.
Taken together, our study provides new evidence that CYR61 acts as a key inducing factor in the metastatic progression of osteosarcoma by playing a critical role in primary tumor dissemination, with a process associated with IGF1/IGFR stimulation. This suggests that CYR61 may represent a potential pivotal target for therapeutic management of metastases spreading in osteosarcoma, in correlation with IGF1/IGFR pathway.