All Publications

  • Matrix stiffness induces a tumorigenic phenotype in mammary epithelium through changes in chromatin accessibility. Nature biomedical engineering Stowers, R. S., Shcherbina, A., Israeli, J., Gruber, J. J., Chang, J., Nam, S., Rabiee, A., Teruel, M. N., Snyder, M. P., Kundaje, A., Chaudhuri, O. 2019


    In breast cancer, the increased stiffness of the extracellular matrix is a key driver of malignancy. Yet little is known about the epigenomic changes that underlie the tumorigenic impact of extracellular matrix mechanics. Here, we show in a three-dimensional culture model of breast cancer that stiff extracellular matrix induces a tumorigenic phenotype through changes in chromatin state. We found that increased stiffness yielded cells with more wrinkled nuclei and with increased lamina-associated chromatin, that cells cultured in stiff matrices displayed more accessible chromatin sites, which exhibited footprints of Sp1 binding, and that this transcription factor acts along with the histone deacetylases 3 and 8 to regulate the induction of stiffness-mediated tumorigenicity. Just as cell culture on soft environments or in them rather than on tissue-culture plastic better recapitulates the acinar morphology observed in mammary epithelium in vivo, mammary epithelial cells cultured on soft microenvironments or in them also more closely replicate the in vivo chromatin state. Our results emphasize the importance of culture conditions for epigenomic studies, and reveal that chromatin state is a critical mediator of mechanotransduction.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/s41551-019-0420-5

    View details for PubMedID 31285581

  • YAP-independent mechanotransduction drives breast cancer progression NATURE COMMUNICATIONS Lee, J. Y., Chang, J. K., Dominguez, A. A., Lee, H., Nam, S., Chang, J., Varma, S., Qi, L. S., West, R. B., Chaudhuri, O. 2019; 10
  • YAP-independent mechanotransduction drives breast cancer progression. Nature communications Lee, J. Y., Chang, J. K., Dominguez, A. A., Lee, H. P., Nam, S. n., Chang, J. n., Varma, S. n., Qi, L. S., West, R. B., Chaudhuri, O. n. 2019; 10 (1): 1848


    Increased tissue stiffness is a driver of breast cancer progression. The transcriptional regulator YAP is considered a universal mechanotransducer, based largely on 2D culture studies. However, the role of YAP during in vivo breast cancer remains unclear. Here, we find that mechanotransduction occurs independently of YAP in breast cancer patient samples and mechanically tunable 3D cultures. Mechanistically, the lack of YAP activity in 3D culture and in vivo is associated with the absence of stress fibers and an order of magnitude decrease in nuclear cross-sectional area relative to 2D culture. This work highlights the context-dependent role of YAP in mechanotransduction, and establishes that YAP does not mediate mechanotransduction in breast cancer.

    View details for PubMedID 31015465

  • Matrix mechanical plasticity regulates cancer cell migration through confining microenvironments. Nature communications Wisdom, K. M., Adebowale, K., Chang, J., Lee, J. Y., Nam, S., Desai, R., Rossen, N. S., Rafat, M., West, R. B., Hodgson, L., Chaudhuri, O. 2018; 9 (1): 4144


    Studies of cancer cell migration have found two modes: one that is protease-independent, requiring micron-sized pores or channels for cells to squeeze through, and one that is protease-dependent, relevant for confining nanoporous matrices such as basement membranes (BMs). However, many extracellular matrices exhibit viscoelasticity and mechanical plasticity, irreversibly deforming in response to force, so that pore size may be malleable. Here we report the impact of matrix plasticity on migration. We develop nanoporous and BM ligand-presenting interpenetrating network (IPN) hydrogels in which plasticity could be modulated independent of stiffness. Strikingly, cells in high plasticity IPNs carry out protease-independent migration through the IPNs. Mechanistically, cells in high plasticity IPNs extend invadopodia protrusions to mechanically and plastically open up micron-sized channels and then migrate through them. These findings uncover a new mode of protease-independent migration, in which cells can migrate through confining matrix if it exhibits sufficient mechanical plasticity.

    View details for PubMedID 30297715