Activin upregulation by NF-κB is required to maintain mesenchymal features of cancer stem-like cells in non-small cell lung cancer

J. Jacob Wamsley, Manish Kumar, David F. Allison, Sheena H. Clift, Caitlyn M. Holzknecht, Szymon J. Szymura, Stephen A. Hoang, Xiaojiang Xu, Christopher A. Moskaluk, David R. Jones, Stefan Bekiranov, Marty W. Mayo*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

63 Scopus citations

Abstract

Soluble growth factors and cytokines within the tumor microenvironment aid in the induction of the epithelial-tomesenchymal transition (EMT). Although EMT promotes the development of cancer-initiating cells (CIC), cellular mechanisms by which cancer cells maintain mesenchymal phenotypes remain poorly understood. Work presented here indicates that induction of EMT stimulates non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) to secrete soluble factors that function in an autocrine fashion. Using gene expression profiling of all annotated and predicted secreted gene products, we find that NF-κB activity is required to upregulate INHBA/Activin, a morphogen in the TGFβ superfamily. INHBA is capable of inducing and maintaining mesenchymal phenotypes, including the expression of EMT master-switch regulators and self-renewal factors that sustain CIC phenotypes and promote lung metastasis. Our work demonstrates that INHBA mRNA and protein expression are commonly elevated in primary human NSCLC and provide evidence that INHBA is a critical autocrine factor that maintains mesenchymal properties of CICs to promote metastasis in NSCLC.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)426-435
Number of pages10
JournalCancer Research
Volume75
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 15 Jan 2015
Externally publishedYes

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