Neuroblastoma, the most common paediatric solid tumour, arises from defective neural crest cells1. Genetic alterations occur frequently in the most aggressive neuroblastomas1. In particular, deletion or suppression of the proapoptotic enzyme caspase-8 is common in malignant, disseminated disease, although the effect of this loss on disease progression is unclear2-4. Here we show that suppression of caspase-8 expression occurs during the establishment of neuroblastoma metastases in vivo, and that reconstitution of caspase-8 expression in deficient neuroblastoma cells suppressed their metastases. Caspase-8 status was not a predictor of primary tumour growth; rather, caspase-8 selectively potentiated apoptosis in neuroblastoma cells invading the collagenous stroma at the tumour margin. Apoptosis was initiated by unligated integrins by means of a process known as integrin-mediated death5. Loss of caspase-8 or integrin rendered these cells refractory to integrin-mediated death, allowed cellular survival in the stromal microenvironment, and promoted metastases. These findings define caspase-8 as a metastasis suppressor gene that, together with integrins, regulates the survival and invasive capacity of neuroblastoma cells.
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