Zipper-interacting protein kinase promotes epithelial-mesenchymal transition, invasion and metastasis through AKT and NF-kB signaling and is associated with metastasis and poor prognosis in gastric cancer patients.

PMID 25831050


Zipper-interacting Protein Kinase (ZIPK) belongs to the death-associated protein kinase family. ZIPK has been characterized as a tumor suppressor in various tumors, including gastric cancer. On the other hand, ZIPK also promotes cell survival. In this study, both in vitro and in vivo assays indicated that ZIPK promoted cell growth, proliferation, migration, invasion, tumor formation and metastasis in nude mice. ZIPK induced epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) with increasing expression of β-catenin, mesenchymal markers, Snail and Slug, and with decreasing expression of E-cadherin. Furthermore, ZIPK activated the AKT/IκB/NF-κB pathway, which can promote EMT and metastasis. Additionally, ZIPK expression was detected in human primary gastric cancer and their matched metastatic lymph node samples by immunohistochemistry. Increased expression of ZIPK in lymph node metastases was significantly associated with stage VI and abdominal organ invasion. Survival analysis revealed that patients with increased ZIPK expression in metastatic lymph nodes had poor disease-specific survival. Taken together, our study reveals that ZIPK is a pro-oncogenic factor, which promotes cancer metastasis.