Tumor-initiating cells (TIC) have been implicated in pancreatic tumor initiation, progression, and metastasis. Among different markers that define this cell population within the tumor, the CD133+ cancer stem cell (CSC) population has reliably been described in these processes. CD133 expression has also been shown to functionally promote metastasis through NF-κB activation in this population, but the mechanism is unclear. In the current study, overexpression of CD133 increased expression and secretion of IL1β (IL1B), which activates an autocrine signaling loop that upregulates NF-κB signaling, epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT), and cellular invasion. This signaling pathway also induces CXCR4 expression, which in turn is instrumental in imparting an invasive phenotype to these cells. In addition to the autocrine signaling of the CD133 secreted IL1β, the tumor-associated macrophages (TAM) also produced IL1β, which further activated this pathway in TICs. The functional significance of the TIC marker CD133 has remained elusive for a very long time; the current study takes us one step closer to understanding how the downstream signaling pathways in these cells regulate the functional properties of TICs. Implications: This study demonstrates the important role of tumor-and macrophage-derived IL1β stimulation in pancreatic cancer. IL1 signaling is increased in cells with CD133 expression, leading to increased NF-κB activity, EMT induction, and invasion. Increased invasiveness via IL1β stimulation is mediated by the upregulation of CXCR4 expression. The study highlights the importance of IL1-mediated signaling in TICs.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This study was funded by NIH grants R01-CA170946, CA124723 (to A.K. Saluja), and R01-CA184274 (to S. Banerjee). The authors would like to acknowledge the Flow Cytometry Core and the Analytical Imaging Core for help with experiments in the study.
© 2017 American Association for Cancer Research.