Thrombospondin 1 (TSP1) is a multifunctional protein able to activate TGFβ and to inhibit angiogenesis in vivo. Although usually thought of as an inhibitor of tumor growth, TSP1 may sometimes be present at high levels during tumor progression, suggesting that tumors can eventually overcome their anti-tumor effects. Using a tet-repressible expression system, we demonstrate that murine TSP1 delayed the onset of tumor growth when produced in the tumor bed by rat fibrosarcoma tumor cells or by stromal fibroblasts coinjected with unmodified C6 glioma tumor cells. Yet upon prolonged exposure to TSP1, tumors came to grow at the same rate in the presence as in the absence of TSP1 and transplantation experiments showed that they had become insensitive to inhibition by TSP1 in both syngeneic and immune compromised hosts. Tumor resistance to TSP1 developed as a result of the in vivo outgrowth of pre-existing tumor cell variants that (1) secreted increased amounts of angiogenic factors that counterbalanced the inhibitory effect of TSP1 on neovascularization and (2) grew more efficiently in the presence of TSP1-activated TGFβ. These results indicate that prolonged and continuous local delivery of a single multifunctional angiogenesis inhibitor like TSP1 to fast-growing tumors can lead to tumor resistance in vivo by fostering the outgrowth of subpopulations that are a by-product of the genetic instability of the tumor cells themselves.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Developmental Biology