Quantitative proteomics identify Tenascin-C as a promoter of lung cancer progression and contributor to a signature prognostic of patient survival

Vasilena Gocheva, Alexandra Naba, Arjun Bhutkar, Talia Guardia, Kathryn M. Miller, Carman Man Chung Li, Talya L. Dayton, Francisco J. Sanchez-Rivera, Caroline Kim-Kiselak, Noor Jailkhani, Monte M. Winslow, Amanda Del Rosario, Richard O. Hynes, Tyler Jacks

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

107 Citations (Scopus)


The extracellular microenvironment is an integral component of normal and diseased tissues that is poorly understood owing to its complexity. To investigate the contribution of the microenvironment to lung fibrosis and adenocarcinoma progression, two pathologies characterized by excessive stromal expansion, we used mouse models to characterize the extracellular matrix (ECM) composition of normal lung, fibrotic lung, lung tumors, and metastases. Using quantitative proteomics, we identified and assayed the abundance of 113 ECM proteins, which revealed robust ECM protein signatures unique to fibrosis, primary tumors, or metastases. These analyses indicated significantly increased abundance of several S100 proteins, including Fibronectin and Tenascin-C (Tnc), in primary lung tumors and associated lymph node metastases compared with normal tissue. We further showed that Tnc expression is repressed by the transcription factor Nkx2-1, a well-established suppressor of metastatic progression. We found that increasing the levels of Tnc, via CRISPR-mediated transcriptional activation of the endogenous gene, enhanced the metastatic dissemination of lung adenocarcinoma cells. Interrogation of human cancer gene expression data revealed that high TNC expression correlates with worse prognosis for lung adenocarcinoma, and that a three-gene expression signature comprising TNC, S100A10, and S100A11 is a robust predictor of patient survival independent of age, sex, smoking history, and mutational load. Our findings suggest that the poorly understood ECM composition of the fibrotic and tumor microenvironment is an underexplored source of diagnostic markers and potential therapeutic targets for cancer patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)E5625-E5634
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number28
Publication statusPublished - 11 Jul 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Extracellular matrix
  • Lung cancer
  • Quantitative proteomics
  • Tenascin-C
  • Tumor microenvironment


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