International Journal of Molecular Sciences
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Previous studies indicate that breast cancer cells with high aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH) activity and CD44 expression (ALDHhiCD44+ ) contribute to metastasis and therapy resistance, and that ALDH1 correlates with poor outcome in breast cancer patients. The current study hypothesized that ALDH1 functionally contributes to breast cancer metastatic behavior and therapy resistance. Expression of ALDH1A1 or ALDH1A3 was knocked down in MDA-MB-468 and SUM159 human breast cancer cells using siRNA. Resulting impacts on ALDH activity (Aldefluor® assay); metastatic behavior and therapy response in vitro (proliferation/adhesion/migration/colony formation/chemotherapy and radiation) and extravasation/metastasis in vivo (chick choroiallantoic membrane assay) was assessed. Knockdown of ALDH1A3 but not ALDH1A1 in breast cancer cells decreased ALDH activity, and knockdown of ALDH1A1 reduced breast cancer cell metastatic behavior and therapy resistance relative to control (p < 0.05). In contrast, knockdown of ALDH1A3 did not alter proliferation, extravasation, or therapy resistance, but increased adhesion/migration and decreased colony formation/metastasis relative to control (p < 0.05). This is the first study to systematically examine the function of ALDH1 isozymes in individual breast cancer cell behaviors that contribute to metastasis. Our novel results indicate that ALDH1 mediates breast cancer metastatic behavior and therapy resistance, and that different enzyme isoforms within the ALDH1 family differentially impact these cell behaviors.