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Cancer Cell. 2006 Sep;10(3):227-39.

ILEI: a cytokine essential for EMT, tumor formation, and late events in metastasis in epithelial cells.

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Research Institute of Molecular Pathology, Dr. Bohrgasse 7, A-1030 Vienna, Austria.


Erk/MAPK and TGFbeta signaling cause epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT) and metastasis in mouse mammary epithelial cells (EpH4) transformed with oncogenic Ras (EpRas). In trials to unravel underlying mechanisms, expression profiling for EMT-specific genes identified a secreted interleukin-related protein (ILEI), upregulated exclusively at the translational level. Stable overexpression of ILEI in EpH4 and EpRas cells caused EMT, tumor growth, and metastasis, independent of TGFbeta-R signaling and enhanced by Bcl2. RNAi-mediated knockdown of ILEI in EpRas cells before and after EMT (EpRasXT) prevented and reverted TGFbeta-dependent EMT, also abrogating metastasis formation. ILEI is overexpressed and/or altered in intracellular localization in multiple human tumors, an event strongly correlated to invasion/EMT, metastasis formation, and survival in human colon and breast cancer.

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