Elevated EDAR signalling promotes mammary gland tumourigenesis with squamous metaplasia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

  • External authors:
  • Rebecca Williams
  • Stephanie Jobling
  • Andrew H. Sims
  • Chunyan Mou
  • Lorna Wilkinson
  • Giovanna M. Collu
  • Denis J. Headon


Ectodysplasin A receptor (EDAR) is a death receptor in the Tumour Necrosis Factor Receptor (TNFR) superfamily with roles in the development of hair follicles, teeth and cutaneous glands. Here we report that human Estrogen Receptor (ER) negative breast carcinomas which display squamous differentiation express EDAR strongly. Using a mouse model with high Edar copy number, we show that elevated EDAR signalling results in a high incidence of mammary tumours in breeding female mice. These tumours resemble the EDAR-high human tumours in that they are characterized by a lack of estrogen receptor expression, contain extensive squamous metaplasia, and display strong β-catenin transcriptional activity. In the mouse model, all of the tumours carry somatic deletions of the third exon of the CTNNB1 gene that encodes β-catenin. Deletion of this exon yields unconstrained β-catenin signalling activity. We also demonstrate that β-catenin activity is required for transformed cell growth, showing that increased EDAR signalling creates an environment in which β-catenin activity can readily promote tumourigenesis. Together, this work identifies a novel death receptor oncogene in breast cancer, whose mechanism of transformation is based on the interaction between the WNT and Ectodysplasin A (EDA) pathways.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 9 Jun 2021