Triple negative breast cancer (TNBC) has poor survival, exhibits rapid metastases, lacks targeted therapies and reliable prognostic markers. Here, we examined metastasis promoting role of cancer testis antigen SPANXB1 in TNBC and its utility as a therapeutic target and prognostic biomarker. Expression pattern of SPANXB1 was determined using matched primary cancer, lymph node metastatic tissues and circulating small extracellular vesicles (sEVs). cDNA microarray analysis of TNBC cells stably integrated with a metastasis suppressor SH3GL2 identified SPANXB1 as a potential target gene. TNBC cells overexpressing SH3GL2 exhibited decreased levels of both SPANXB1 mRNA and protein. Silencing of SPANXB1 reduced migration, invasion and reactive oxygen species production of TNBC cells. SPANXB1 depletion augmented SH3GL2 expression and decreased RAC-1, FAK, A-Actinin and Vinculin expression. Phenotypic and molecular changes were reversed upon SPANXB1 re-expression. SPANXB1 overexpressing breast cancer cells with an enhanced SPANXB1:SH3GL2 ratio achieved pulmonary metastasis within 5 weeks, whereas controls cells failed to do so. Altered expression of SPANXB1 was detected in the sEVs of SPANXB1 transduced cells. Exclusive expression of SPANXB1 was traceable in circulating sEVs, which was associated with TNBC progression. SPANXB1 represents a novel and ideal therapeutic target for blocking TNBC metastases due to its unique expression pattern and may function as an EV based prognostic marker to improve TNBC survival. Uniquely restricted expression of SPANXB1 in TNBCs, makes it an ideal candidate for targeted therapeutics and prognostication.
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