Date of Graduation


Document Type

Dissertation (PhD)

Program Affiliation

Biomedical Sciences

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Advisor/Committee Chair

Jonathan Kurie, MD

Committee Member

Joseph Alcorn, PhD

Committee Member

Faye Johnson, MD, PhD

Committee Member

Juan Fueyo-Margareto, MD

Committee Member

Sendurai Mani, PhD


The ECM of epithelial carcinomas undergoes structural remodeling during periods of uncontrolled growth, creating regional heterogeneity and torsional stress. How tumors maintain ECM integrity in the face of dynamic biophysical forces is still largely unclear. This study addresses these deficiencies using mouse models of human lung adenocarcinoma. Spontaneous lung tumors were marked by disorganized basement membranes, dense collagen networks, and increased tissue stiffness. Metastasis-prone lung adenocarcinoma cells secreted fibulin-2 (Fbln2), a matrix glycoprotein involved in ECM supra-molecular assembly. Fibulin-2 depletion in tumor cells decreased the intra-tumoral abundance of matrix metalloproteinases and reduced collagen cross-linking and tumor compressive properties resulting in inhibited tumor growth and metastasis. Fbln2 deposition within intra-tumoral fibrotic bands was a predictor of poor clinical outcome in patients. Collectively, these findings support a feed-forward model in which tumor cells secrete matrix-stabilizing factors required for the assembly of ECM that preferentially favors malignant progression. To our knowledge, this is the first evidence that tumor cells directly regulate the integrity of their surrounding matrix through the secretion of matrix-stabilizing factors such as fibulin-2. These findings open a new avenue of research into matrix assembly molecules as potential therapeutic targets in cancer patients.


Fibulin-2, extracellular matrix, lung cancer, metastasis, cancer-associated fibroblasts, collagen

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