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Cancer Lett. 2010 Dec 28;299(2):137-49. doi: 10.1016/j.canlet.2010.08.012. Epub 2010 Sep 19.

Raf kinase inhibitor protein suppresses nuclear factor-κB-dependent cancer cell invasion through negative regulation of matrix metalloproteinase expression.

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Department of Chemistry, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT 06269, USA.


Accumulating evidence suggests that Raf kinase inhibitor protein (RKIP), which negatively regulates multiple signaling cascades including the Raf and nuclear factor-κB (NF-κB) pathways, functions as a metastasis suppressor. However, the basis for this activity is not clear. We investigated this question in a panel of breast cancer, colon cancer and melanoma cell lines. We found that RKIP negatively regulated the invasion of the different cancer cells through three-dimensional extracellular matrix barriers by controlling the expression of matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs), particularly, MMP-1 and MMP-2. Silencing of RKIP expression resulted in a highly invasive phenotype and dramatically increased levels of MMP-1 and MMP-2 expression, while overexpression of RKIP decreased cancer cell invasion in vitro and metastasis in vivo of murine tumor allografts. Knockdown of MMP-1 or MMP-2 in RKIP-knockdown cells reverted their invasiveness to normal. In contrast, when examining migration of the different cancer cells in a two-dimensional, barrier-less environment, we found that RKIP had either a positive regulatory activity or no activity, but in no case a negative one (as would be expected if RKIP suppressed metastasis at the level of cell migration itself). Therefore, RKIP's function as a metastasis suppressor appears to arise from its ability to negatively regulate expression of specific MMPs, and thus invasion through barriers, and not from a direct effect on the raw capacity of cells to move. The NF-κB pathway, but not the Raf pathway, appeared to positively control the invasion of breast cancer cells. A regulatory loop involving an opposing relationship between RKIP and the NF-κB pathway may control the level of MMP expression and cell invasion.

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