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Neoplasia. 2011 Jul;13(7):601-10.

Krüppel-like factor 4 inhibits tumorigenic progression and metastasis in a mouse model of breast cancer.

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Department of Pharmacology, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH 44106-4965, USA.


Krüppel-like factor 4 (KLF4) is a zinc finger transcription factor that functions as an oncogene or tumor suppressor in a highly tissue-specific cell-dependent manner. However, its precise role in breast cancer and metastasis remains unclear. Here, we show that transient adenoviral expression of KLF4 in the 4T1 orthotopic mammary cancer model significantly attenuated primary tumor growth as well as micrometastases to the lungs and liver. These results can be attributed, in part, to decreased proliferation and increased apoptosis. Further supporting a tumor-suppressive role for KLF4 in the breast, we found that KLF4 expression is lost in a mouse model of HER2/NEU/ERBB2-positive breast cancer. To determine whether enforced KLF4 expression could alter tumor latency in these mice, we used a doxycycline-inducible expression model in the context of the MMTV-Neu transgene. Surprisingly, tumors that developed in this model also lost KLF4 expression, suggesting negative selection for sustained expression. We have previously reported that KLF4 inhibits epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT), a preliminary step in metastatic progression. Overexpression of KLF4 in 4T1 cells led to a significant reduction in the expression of Snail, a key mediator of EMT and metastasis. Conversely, KLF4 silencing increased Snail expression in the nontransformed MCF-10A cell line. Collectively, these data demonstrate the first functional, in vivo evidence for KLF4 as a tumor suppressor in breast cancer cells. Furthermore, our findings suggest an inhibitory role for KLF4 during breast cancer metastases that functions, in part, through repression of Snail.

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