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Cell reports

LIF mediates proinvasive activation of stromal fibroblasts in cancer.


PMID 24857661

Abstract

Signaling crosstalk between tumor cells and fibroblasts confers proinvasive properties to the tumor microenvironment. Here, we identify leukemia inhibitory factor (LIF) as a tumor promoter that mediates proinvasive activation of stromal fibroblasts independent of alpha-smooth muscle actin (α-SMA) expression. We demonstrate that a pulse of transforming growth factor β (TGF-β) establishes stable proinvasive fibroblast activation by inducing LIF production in both fibroblasts and tumor cells. In fibroblasts, LIF mediates TGF-β-dependent actomyosin contractility and extracellular matrix remodeling, which results in collective carcinoma cell invasion in vitro and in vivo. Accordingly, carcinomas from multiple origins and melanomas display strong LIF upregulation, which correlates with dense collagen fiber organization, cancer cell collective invasion, and poor clinical outcome. Blockade of JAK activity by Ruxolitinib (JAK inhibitor) counteracts fibroblast-dependent carcinoma cell invasion in vitro and in vivo. These findings establish LIF as a proinvasive fibroblast producer independent of α-SMA and may open novel therapeutic perspectives for patients with aggressive primary tumors.