Cooperative NF-κB and Notch1 signaling promotes macrophage-mediated MenaINV expression in breast cancer

Camille L. Duran, George S. Karagiannis, Xiaoming Chen, Ved P. Sharma, David Entenberg, John S. Condeelis, Maja H. Oktay

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Metastasis is a multistep process that leads to the formation of clinically detectable tumor foci at distant organs and frequently to patient demise. Only a subpopulation of breast cancer cells within the primary tumor can disseminate systemically and cause metastasis. To disseminate, cancer cells must express MenaINV, an isoform of the actin regulatory protein Mena, encoded by the ENAH gene, that endows tumor cells with transendothelial migration activity, allowing them to enter and exit the blood circulation. We have previously demonstrated that MenaINV mRNA and protein expression is induced in cancer cells by macrophage contact. In this study, we discovered the precise mechanism by which macrophages induce MenaINV expression in tumor cells. We examined the promoter of the human and mouse ENAH gene and discovered a conserved NF-κB transcription factor binding site. Using live imaging of an NF-κB activity reporter and staining of fixed tissues from mouse and human breast cancer, we further determined that for maximal induction of MenaINV in cancer cells, NF-κB needs to cooperate with the Notch1 signaling pathway. Mechanistically, Notch1 signaling does not directly increase MenaINV expression, but it enhances and sustains NF-κB signaling through retention of p65, an NF-κB transcription factor, in the nucleus of tumor cells, leading to increased MenaINV expression. In mice, these signals are augmented following chemotherapy treatment and abrogated upon macrophage depletion. Targeting Notch1 signaling in vivo decreased NF-κB signaling activation and MenaINV expression in the primary tumor and decreased metastasis. Altogether, these data uncover mechanistic targets for blocking MenaINV induction that should be explored clinically to decrease cancer cell dissemination and improve survival of patients with metastatic disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number37
JournalBreast Cancer Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2023


  • Breast cancer
  • MenaINV
  • NF-κB
  • Notch1
  • TMEM doorways

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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