Research ArticleCANCER

Epigenetically heterogeneous tumor cells direct collective invasion through filopodia-driven fibronectin micropatterning

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Science Advances  24 Jul 2020:
Vol. 6, no. 30, eaaz6197
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aaz6197


Tumor heterogeneity drives disease progression, treatment resistance, and patient relapse, yet remains largely underexplored in invasion and metastasis. Here, we investigated heterogeneity within collective cancer invasion by integrating DNA methylation and gene expression analysis in rare purified lung cancer leader and follower cells. Our results showed global DNA methylation rewiring in leader cells and revealed the filopodial motor MYO10 as a critical gene at the intersection of epigenetic heterogeneity and three-dimensional (3D) collective invasion. We further identified JAG1 signaling as a previously unknown upstream activator of MYO10 expression in leader cells. Using live-cell imaging, we found that MYO10 drives filopodial persistence necessary for micropatterning extracellular fibronectin into linear tracks at the edge of 3D collective invasion exclusively in leaders. Our data fit a model where epigenetic heterogeneity and JAG1 signaling jointly drive collective cancer invasion through MYO10 up-regulation in epigenetically permissive leader cells, which induces filopodia dynamics necessary for linearized fibronectin micropatterning.

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