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Cancer Res. 2005 Dec 15;65(24):11375-83.

Inducible IkappaB kinase/IkappaB kinase epsilon expression is induced by CK2 and promotes aberrant nuclear factor-kappaB activation in breast cancer cells.

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  • 1Department of Biochemistry, Boston University School of Medicine, MA 02118, USA.


Aberrant activation of nuclear factor-kappaB (NF-kappaB) transcription factors has been implicated in the pathogenesis of breast cancer. We previously showed elevated activity of IkappaB kinase alpha (IKKalpha), IKKbeta, and protein kinase CK2 in primary human breast cancer specimens and cultured cells. A novel inducible IKK protein termed IKK-i/IKKepsilon has been characterized as a potential NF-kappaB activator. Here, we provide evidence that implicates IKK-i/IKKepsilon in the pathogenesis of breast cancer. We show IKK-i/IKKepsilon expression in primary human breast cancer specimens and carcinogen-induced mouse mammary tumors. Multiple breast cancer cell lines showed higher levels of IKK-i/IKKepsilon and kinase activity compared with untransformed MCF-10F breast epithelial cells. Interestingly, IKK-i/IKKepsilon expression correlated with CK2alpha expression in mammary glands and breast tumors derived from MMTV-CK2alpha transgenic mice. Ectopic CK2 expression in untransformed cells led to increased IKK-i/IKKepsilon mRNA and protein levels. Inhibition of CK2alpha via the pharmacologic inhibitor apigenin or upon transfection of a CK2 kinase-inactive subunit reduced IKK-i/IKKepsilon levels. Expression of a kinase-inactive IKK-i/IKKepsilon mutant in breast cancer cells reduced NF-kappaB activity as judged by transfection assays of reporters driven either by NF-kappaB elements or the promoters of two NF-kappaB target genes, cyclin D1 and relB. Importantly, the kinase-inactive IKK-i/IKKepsilon mutant reduced the endogenous levels of these genes as well as the ability of breast cancer cells to grow in soft agar or form invasive colonies in Matrigel. Thus, CK2 induces functional IKK-i/IKKepsilon, which is an important mediator of the activation of NF-kappaB that plays a critical role in the pathogenesis of breast cancer.

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