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Molecular cancer research : MCR

Autophagy Supports Breast Cancer Stem Cell Maintenance by Regulating IL6 Secretion.


PMID 25573951

Abstract

Autophagy is a mechanism by which cells degrade cellular material to provide nutrients and energy for survival during stress. The autophagy is thought to be a critical process for cancer stem cell (CSC) or tumor-initiating cell maintenance but the mechanisms by which autophagy supports survival of CSCs remain poorly understood. In this study, inhibition of autophagy by knockdown of ATG7 or BECN1 modified the CD44(+)/CD24(low/-) population in breast cancer cells by regulating CD24 and IL6 secretion. In a breast cancer cell line that is independent of autophagy for survival, autophagy inhibition increased IL6 secretion to the media. On the other hand, in an autophagy-dependent cell line, autophagy inhibition decreased IL6 secretion, cell survival, and mammosphere formation. In these cells, IL6 treatment or conditioned media from autophagy-competent cells rescued the deficiency in mammosphere formation induced by autophagy inhibition. These results reveal that autophagy regulates breast CSC maintenance in autophagy-dependent breast cancer cells by modulating IL6 secretion implicating autophagy as a potential therapeutic target in breast cancer. Modulation of autophagy in breast cancer has different and even opposite effects, indicating the need for a selection strategy when trying to manipulate autophagy in the context of cancer therapy.