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01.12.2012 | Research | Ausgabe 1/2012 Open Access

Molecular Cancer 1/2012

Epidermal growth factor (EGF) and interleukin (IL)-1β synergistically promote ERK1/2-mediated invasive breast ductal cancer cell migration and invasion

Molecular Cancer > Ausgabe 1/2012
Liqiang Ma, Fenghua Lan, Zhiyong Zheng, Feilai Xie, Lie Wang, Wei Liu, Junyong Han, Feng Zheng, Yanchuan Xie, Qiaojia Huang
Wichtige Hinweise

Electronic supplementary material

The online version of this article (doi:10.​1186/​1476-4598-11-79) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

Competing interests

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Authors’ contributions

LM performed the experiments and data analysis. FL participated in guiding some experiments. ZZ, FX and WL carried out immunohistochemical samples collecting and the results analysis. LW provided tissue samples and clinical data. JH performed some of the experimental studies. FZ participated in some experiment design and data analysis. YX performed some of the experiments. QH performed some experiments, and contributed to design the studies, interpret the data and write the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.



Patients with invasive breast ductal carcinoma (IBDC) with metastasis have a very poor prognosis. Little is known about the synergistic action of growth and inflammatory factors in IBDC metastases.


The expression of activated extracellular signal-regulated kinase1/2 (phosphorylated or p-ERK1/2) was analyzed by immunohistochemistry in IBDC tissue samples from 80 cases. BT474 IBDC cell migration and invasion were quantified using the Transwell assay. Matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)-9 expression and activity were analyzed by RT-PCR, Western blotting and zymography. Activator protein (AP)-1 activity was measured with a luciferase reporter gene assay. The Wilcoxon signed-rank test, Chi-square test, the partition of Chi-square test, independent t-test, and Spearman’s method were used for the statistical analysis.


Phosphorylated ERK1/2 was detected in 58/80 (72.5%) IBDC tissues, and was associated with higher TNM stage and lymph node metastasis, but not patient age or tumor size. Individually, epidermal growth factor (EGF), and interleukin (IL)-1β activated ERK1/2, increased cell migration and invasion, MMP-9 expression and activity, AP-1 activation in vitro and the expression of p-ERK1/2 was positively correlated with EGF expression levels, as well as IL-1β, MMP-9 and c-fos in IBDC tissue samples. Co-stimulation with EGF and IL-1β synergistically increased ERK1/2 and AP-1 activation, cell migration and invasion, and MMP-9 expression and activity. Inhibition of ERK1/2 using U0126 or siRNA abolished EGF and/or IL-1β-induced cell migration and invasion in a dose-dependent manner.


Activated ERK1/2 was associated with higher TNM stage and lymph node metastasis in IBDC. Both in vitro and in vivo studies indicated that ERK-1/2 activation may increase the metastatic ability of IBDC cells. Growth and inflammatory factors synergistically induced IBDC cell migration and invasion via ERK1/2 signaling, AP-1 activation and MMP-9 upregulation.
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