Research Papers:

The inflammatory/cancer-related IL-6/STAT3/NF-κB positive feedback loop includes AUF1 and maintains the active state of breast myofibroblasts

Siti-Fauziah Hendrayani _, Bothaina Al-Harbi, Mysoon M. Al-Ansari, Gabriela Silva and Abdelilah Aboussekhra

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Oncotarget. 2016; 7:41974-41985. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.9633

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Siti-Fauziah Hendrayani1, Bothaina Al-Harbi1, Mysoon M. Al-Ansari1,2, Gabriela Silva1,3, Abdelilah Aboussekhra1

1Department of Molecular Oncology, King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Center, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

2Department of Microbiology, Faculty of Science and Medical Studies, King Saud University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

3Current address: Instituto de Biologia Experimental e Tecnológica, Oeiras, Portugal

Correspondence to:

Abdelilah Abousssekhra, email: aboussekhra@kfshrc.edu.sa

Keywords: IL-6, breast cancer, cancer-associated fibroblasts, positive feedback loop, AUF1

Received: January 05, 2016     Accepted: May 09, 2016     Published: May 26, 2016


The IL-6/STAT3/NF-κB positive feedback loop links inflammation to cancer and maintains cells at a transformed state. Similarly, cancer-associated myofibroblats remains active even in absence of cancer cells. However, the molecular basis of this sustained active state remains elusive. We have shown here that breast cancer cells and IL-6 persistently activate breast stromal fibroblasts through the stimulation of the positive IL-6/STAT3/NF-κB feedback loop. Transient neutralization of IL-6 in culture inhibited this signaling circuit and reverted myofibrobalsts to a normalized state, suggesting the implication of the IL-6 autocrine feedback loop as well. Importantly, the IL-6/STAT3/NF-κB pro-inflammatory circuit was also active in cancer-associated fibroblasts isolated from breast cancer patients. Transient inhibition of STAT3 by specific siRNA in active fibroblasts persistently reduced the level of the RNA binding protein AUF1, blocked the loop and normalized these cells. Moreover, we present clear evidence that AUF1 is also part of this positive feedback loop. Interestingly, treatment of breast myofibroblasts with caffeine, which has been previously shown to persistently inhibit active breast stromal fibroblasts, blocked the positive feedback loop through potent and sustained inhibition of STAT3, AKT, lin28B and AUF1. These results indicate that the IL-6/STAT3/NF-κB positive feedback loop includes AUF1 and is responsible for the sustained active status of cancer-associated fibroblasts. We have also shown that normalizing myofibroblasts, which could be of great therapeutic value, is possible through the inhibition of this procarcinogenic circuit.

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