Substantial evidence has clearly demonstrated the role of the IL-6-NF-κB signaling loop in promoting aggressive phenotypes in breast cancer. However, the exact mechanism by which this inflammatory loop is regulated remains to be defined. Here, we report that integrin-linked kinase (ILK) acts as a molecular switch for this feedback loop. Specifically, we show that IL-6 induces ILK expression via E2F1 upregulation, which, in turn, activates NF-κB signaling to facilitate IL-6 production. shRNAmediated knockdown or pharmacological inhibition of ILK disrupted this IL-6-NF-κB signaling loop, and blocked IL-6-induced cancer stem cells in vitro and estrogen-independent tumor growth in vivo. Together, these findings establish ILK as an intermediary effector of the IL-6-NF-κB feedback loop and a promising therapeutic target for breast cancer.
ASJC Scopus subject areas