Hedgehog (Hh) signaling has been found to be activated in breast cancer stem cells (BCSCs). However, the precise role of the BCSCs marker, CD24, remains unclear. Here, we describe a relationship between CD24 and Sonic Hedgehog (SHH), and reveal a role for this relationship in the induction of a malignant phenotype of breast cancer. CD24 siRNA-transfected breast cancer cells (BCCs) demonstrated higher expression of SHH and GLI1, increased anchorage-independent proliferation, and enhanced invasiveness and superior tumorigenicity compared with control. Conversely, CD24 forced-expressing BCCs possessed decreased SHH and GLI1 expression, anchorage-independent proliferation, and invasiveness. Suppression of SHH decreased invasiveness through inhibition of matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)-2 expression, GLI1 expression, anchorage-independent proliferation, tumorigenicity, and tumor volume in vivo in CD24 siRNA transfected BCCs. DNA microarray analysis identified STAT1 as a relationship between CD24 and SHH. CD24 siRNA-transfected BCCs with concurrent STAT1 inhibition exhibited decreased SHH expression, invasiveness, anchorage-independent proliferation, tumorigenicity, and tumor volume in vivo. These results suggest that CD24 suppresses development of a malignant phenotype by down-regulating SHH transcription through STAT1 inhibition. CD24 gene transfer or STAT1 inhibition may represent new effective therapeutic strategies to target refractory breast cancer.
!!!All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes