Metastatic dissemination of cancer cells, which accounts for 90% of cancer mortality, is the ultimate hallmark of malignancy. Growing evidence suggests that blood platelets have a predominant role in tumor metastasis; however, the molecular mechanisms involved remain elusive. Here, we demonstrate that genetic deficiency of integrin α6β1 on platelets markedly decreases experimental and spontaneous lung metastasis. In vitro and in vivo assays reveal that human and mouse platelet α6β1 supports platelet adhesion to various types of cancer cells. Using a knockdown approach, we identified ADAM9 as the major counter receptor of α6β1 on both human and mouse tumor cells. Static and flow-based adhesion assays of platelets binding to DC-9, a recombinant protein covering the disintegrin-cysteine domain of ADAM9, demonstrated that this receptor directly binds to platelet α6β1. In vivo studies showed that the interplay between platelet α6β1 and tumor cell–expressed ADAM9 promotes efficient lung metastasis. The integrin α6β1–dependent platelet-tumor cell interaction induces platelet activation and favors the extravasation process of tumor cells. Finally, we demonstrate that a pharmacological approach targeting α6β1 efficiently impairs tumor metastasis through a platelet-dependent mechanism. Our study reveals a mechanism by which platelets promote tumor metastasis and suggests that integrin α6β1 represents a promising target for antimetastatic therapies.
Elmina Mammadova-Bach, Paola Zigrino, Camille Brucker, Catherine Bourdon, Monique Freund, Adèle De Arcangelis, Scott I. Abrams, Gertaud Orend, Christian Gachet, Pierre Henri Mangin