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Mol Carcinog. 1998 Apr;21(4):234-43.

Activation of tissue-factor gene expression in breast carcinoma cells by stimulation of the RAF-ERK signaling pathway.

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Department of Oncology-Pathology, Karolinska Institute and Hospital, Stockholm, Sweden.


Tissue factor (TF) is a cell-surface glycoprotein responsible for initiating the extrinsic pathway of coagulation. The overexpression of TF in human malignancy has been correlated with the angiogenic phenotype, poor prognosis, and thromboembolic complications. The mechanisms underlying constitutive expression of TF in cancer cells are poorly defined. We cloned TF cDNA on the basis of its strong expression in metastatic MDA-MB-231 breast carcinoma cells in contrast to its weak expression in non-metastatic MCF-7 cells. Transient transfection analysis showed that TF promoter activity in MCF-7 cells could be stimulated by expression of a membrane-targeted raf kinase (raf-CAAX). raf-induced activity was dependent on the presence of an AP-1/NF-kappaB motif in the TF promoter and was inhibited by dominant-negative mutants of jun and by I-kappaB alpha. MDA-MB-231 cells were found to contain higher levels of ERK1/2 kinase activity than did MCF-7 cells. Electrophoretic mobility shift assays showed that MDA-MB-231 nuclear proteins bound strongly to an oligonucleotide corresponding to the AP-1/NF-kappaB sequence, whereas MCF-7 nuclear extracts showed weak binding to this element. Finally, we showed that TF mRNA levels in MDA-MB-231 cells declined after addition of the mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase inhibitor PD98059. Our data showed that activation of the raf-ERK pathway led to activation of TF expression in breast carcinoma cells and suggested that constitutive activation of this pathway leads to high TF expression in MDA-MB-231 cells.

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