The Cytokine IL-6 Reactivates Breast Stromal Fibroblasts through Transcription Factor STAT3-dependent Up-regulation of the RNA Binding Protein AUF1 [Gene Regulation]

September 17th, 2014 by Hendrayani, S.-F., Al-Khalaf, H. H., Aboussekhra, A.

The development and spread of mammary carcinomas require synergetic interplay between tumor cells and their microenvironment through paracrine secretions, which are still not well defined. We have shown here that the interleukin-6 (IL-6), either recombinant or secreted from highly invasive breast cancer cells, down-regulates the tumor suppressor proteins p16INK4A, p21WAF1 and p53, and activates breast stromal fibroblasts in a paracrine manner. The formation of myofibroblasts requires p16INK4A down-regulation and the activation of the JAK2/STAT3 pathway. Indeed, the transcription factor STAT3 positively controls the expression of the three major myofibroblast markers SDF-1, [alfa]-SMA and TGF-[beta1], and mediates IL-6-related down-regulation of p16INK4A, p21WAF1 and p53, as well as the activation of stromal fibroblasts. Importantly, these effects were mediated through STAT3-dependent up-regulation of the mRNA binding protein AUF1, whose promoter contains 3 canonical STAT3 binding sites. AUF1 binds the SDF-1, [alfa]-SMA, TGF-[beta1] and IL-6 mRNAs and reduces their turnover. Consequently, specific AUF1 down-regulation inhibits IL-6-dependent activation of breast stromal fibroblasts, whilst AUF1 ectopic expression of p37AUF1 activated these cells and enhanced their paracrine induction of epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition in breast cancer cells, which shows a non-cell-autonomous oncogenic function of AUF1. Together, these results demonstrate a major role of IL-6 in activating breast stromal fibroblasts through STAT3-dependent AUF1 induction.
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