Altered fatty acid metabolism continues to be an attractive target for therapeutic intervention in cancer. We previously found that colorectal cancer (CRC) cells with a higher metastatic potential express a higher level of fatty acid translocase (CD36). However, the role of CD36 in CRC metastasis has not been studied. Here, we demonstrate that high expression of CD36 promotes invasion of CRC cells. Consistently, CD36 promoted lung metastasis in the tail vein model and GI metastasis in the cecum injection model. RNA-Seq analysis of CRC cells with altered expression of CD36 revealed an association between high expression of CD36 and upregulation of MMP28, a novel member of the metallopeptidase family of proteins. Using shRNA-mediated knockdown and overexpression of CD36, we confirmed that CD36 regulates MMP28 expression in CRC cells. siRNA-mediated knockdown of MMP28 decreases invasion of CRC cells, suggesting that MMP28 regulates the metastatic properties of cells downstream of CD36. Importantly, high expression of MMP28 leads to a significant decrease in active E-cadherin and an increase in the products of E-cadherin cleavage, CTF1 and CTF2. In summary, upregulation of CD36 expression promotes the metastatic properties of CRC via upregulation of MMP28 and an increase in E-cadherin cleavage, suggesting that targeting the CD36–MMP28 axis may be an effective therapeutic strategy for CRC metastasis.

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Published in Cancers, v. 14, issue 1, 252.

© 2022 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.

This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).

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This research was funded by NCI R01 CA249734 (Y.Y.Z.) and NCI R01 CA208343 (B.M.E.).

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All data included in the manuscript or in the supplemental material are available upon request.

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