Interleukin-6 promotes pancreatic cancer cell migration by rapidly activating the small GTPase CDC42

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35 Scopus citations


Inflammation is a major driver of tumor progression and metastasis, although the mechanisms by which proinflammatory cytokines drive metastatic invasion are unknown. Interleukin-6 (IL-6) is a potent proinflammatory cytokine that is elevated in individuals with pancreatic cancer (PDAC), is required for PDAC progression in mice, and increases tumor cell invasion in vitro. Here, we provide insights into the mechanisms by which IL-6 activates tumor cell invasion. We found that IL-6 stimulation rapidly and robustly activates the small GTPase cell division cycle 42 (CDC42) in human PDAC cells and promotes the formation of premigratory filopodia. The CDC42 activation was required for IL-6 –induced invasion as blocking CDC42 activity rendered the cells insensitive to IL-6’s proinvasive effects. Loss of Janus kinase 2 (JAK2) or signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (STAT3) prevented IL-6–mediated CDC42 activation, indicating that IL-6 activates CDC42 through both JAK2 and STAT3. However, the rapid activation of CDC42 suggested that this activation may be distinct from canonical STAT3-me-diated transcriptional activation. Importantly, we observed an interaction between STAT3 and IQ motif–containing GTPase-activating protein 1 (IQGAP1), a scaffolding platform that binds CDC42. STAT3 colocalized with CDC42 and IQGAP1 at the plasma membrane, suggesting cross-talk between IL-6 – mediated STAT3 signaling and CDC42 activation. These results suggest that IL-6 promotes metastatic invasion, at least partially, through CDC42 and that, along with its pleiotropic effects on tumor growth and progression, IL-6 signaling also activates proinvasive GTPase signaling, priming tumor cells for metastatic invasion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)11143-11153
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number28
StatePublished - Jul 13 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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