Breast cancer bone metastasis
Using a series of unique models, we discovered the initial colonization of disseminated cancer cells requires the microenvironment niche comprised of cells of the osteoblast lineage. The cancer-niche interaction is mediated by heterotypic adherens and gap junctions, which activates the mTOR and calcium pathways in cancer cells to drive progression from single cells to multi-cell micrometastases. The cancer-niche interactions also render cancer cells more stem-like and capable for further dissemination to other organs. These studies advanced our understanding of bone metastasis and revealed potential therapeutic targets.