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Cancer Res. 2013 Nov 15;73(22):6679-89. doi: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-13-0891. Epub 2013 Sep 23.

Loss of TBK1 induces epithelial-mesenchymal transition in the breast cancer cells by ERα downregulation.

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Authors' Affiliations: CHA Cancer Institute, College of Pharmacy, Department of Biomedical Science, CHA University; and Department of Surgery, Gangnam Severance Hospital, Yonsei University Medical College, Seoul, Republic of Korea.


Estrogen receptor α (ERα) is the pivotal regulator of proliferation and differentiation in mammary epithelia, where it serves as a crucial prognostic marker and therapeutic target in breast cancer. In this study, we show that the loss of the kinase TANK-binding kinase 1 (TBK1) induces epithelial-mesenchymal transition in ERα-positive breast cancer cells by downregulating ERα expression. TBK1 was overexpressed in ERα-positive breast cancers, where it was associated with distant metastasis-free survival in patients, whereas it was underexpressed in ERα-negative breast cancers. TBK1 silencing decreased expression of epithelial markers and increased expression of mesenchymal markers in ERα-positive breast cancer cells, enhancing tumor growth and lung metastasis in vivo in a manner associated with downregulation of ERα expression. Mechanistically, TBK1 silencing reduced FOXO3A binding to the ERα promoter by inducing the translocation of phosphorylated FOXO3A from the nucleus to the cytoplasm. Thus, our results indicate that the loss of TBK1 expression parallels the loss of ERα expression, in turn helping drive an aggressive breast cancer phenotype.

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