Combinatorial treatment with statins and niclosamide prevents CRC dissemination by unhinging the MACC1-β-catenin-S100A4 axis of metastasis

Benedikt Kortüm, Harikrishnan Radhakrishnan, Fabian Zincke, Christoph Sachse, Susen Burock, Ulrich Keilholz, Mathias Dahlmann, Wolfgang Walther, Gunnar Dittmar, Dennis Kobelt, Ulrike Stein*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Colorectal cancer (CRC) is the second-most common malignant disease worldwide, and metastasis is the main culprit of CRC-related death. Metachronous metastases remain to be an unpredictable, unpreventable, and fatal complication, and tracing the molecular chain of events that lead to metastasis would provide mechanistically linked biomarkers for the maintenance of remission in CRC patients after curative treatment. We hypothesized, that Metastasis-associated in colorectal cancer-1 (MACC1) induces a secretory phenotype to enforce metastasis in a paracrine manner, and found, that the cell-free culture medium of MACC1-expressing CRC cells induces migration. Stable isotope labeling by amino acids in cell culture mass spectrometry (SILAC-MS) of the medium revealed, that S100A4 is significantly enriched in the MACC1-specific secretome. Remarkably, both biomarkers correlate in expression data of independent cohorts as well as within CRC tumor sections. Furthermore, combined elevated transcript levels of the metastasis genes MACC1 and S100A4 in primary tumors and in blood plasma robustly identifies CRC patients at high risk for poor metastasis-free (MFS) and overall survival (OS). Mechanistically, MACC1 strengthens the interaction of β-catenin with TCF4, thus inducing S100A4 synthesis transcriptionally, resulting in elevated secretion to enforce cell motility and metastasis. In cell motility assays, S100A4 was indispensable for MACC1-induced migration, as shown via knock-out and pharmacological inhibition of S100A4. The direct transcriptional and functional relationship of MACC1 and S100A4 was probed by combined targeting with repositioned drugs. In fact, the MACC1-β-catenin-S100A4 axis by statins (MACC1) and niclosamide (S100A4) synergized in inhibiting cancer cell motility in vitro and metastasis in vivo. The MACC1-β-catenin-S100A4 signaling axis is causal for CRC metastasis. Selectively repositioned drugs synergize in restricting MACC1/S100A4-driven metastasis with cross-entity potential.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4446-4458
Number of pages13
Issue number39
Early online date25 Aug 2022
Publication statusPublished - 23 Sept 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Amino Acids/metabolism
  • Colonic Neoplasms/genetics
  • Colorectal Neoplasms/genetics
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic
  • Humans
  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors
  • Niclosamide/pharmacology
  • Rectal Neoplasms/genetics
  • S100 Calcium-Binding Protein A4/genetics
  • Trans-Activators/genetics
  • beta Catenin/metabolism


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