Endogenous PAD4 in Breast Cancer Cells Mediates Cancer Extracellular Chromatin Network Formation and Promotes Lung Metastasis

Lai Shi, Huanling Yao, Zheng Liu, Ming Xu, Allan Tsung, Yanming Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


Peptidyl arginine deiminase 4 (PAD4/PADI4) is a posttranslational modification enzyme that converts protein arginine or mono-methylarginine to citrulline. The PAD4-mediated hypercitrullination reaction in neutrophils causes the release of nuclear chromatin to form a chromatin network termed neutrophil extracellular traps (NET). NETs were first described as antimicrobial fibers that bind and kill bacteria. However, it is not known whether PAD4 can mediate the release of chromatin DNA into the extracellular space of cancer cells. Here, we report that murine breast cancer 4T1 cells expressing high levels of PADI4 can release cancer extracellular chromatin networks (CECN) in vitro and in vivo. Deletion of Padi4 using CRISPR/Cas9 abolished CECN formation in 4T1 cells. Padi4 deletion from 4T1 cells also reduced the rate of tumor growth in an allograft model, and decreased lung metastasis by 4T1 breast cancers. DNase I treatment, which degrades extracellular DNA including CECNs, also reduced breast to lung metastasis of Padi4 wild-type 4T1 cells in allograft experiments in the Padi4-knockout mice. We further demonstrated that DNase I treatment in this mouse model did not alter circulating tumor cells but decreased metastasis through steps after intravasation. Taken together, our genetic studies show that PAD4 plays a cell autonomous role in cancer metastasis, thus revealing a novel strategy for preventing cancer metastasis by inhibiting cancer cell endogenous PAD4.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)735-747
Number of pages13
JournalMolecular Cancer Research
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2020
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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