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Interleukin-6 affects cell death escaping mechanisms acting on Bax-Ku70-Clusterin interactions in human colon cancer progression.

Activation of pro-survival pathways and apoptotic cell death escape are considered hallmarks of oncogenic cell transformation. Tissue microenvironment strongly influences tumorigenesis, redirecting some pathways versus a persisting pro-survival state. Here, we report evidence on the role of interleukin 6 (IL-6) in affecting pro-survival pathways in colon cancer progression, modulating the expression and the molecular interactions among the pro-apoptotic factor Bax, the DNA repair proteins Ku70/86 and Clusterin isoforms. In human colorectal carcinomas (n = 50) at different stages of disease, we found an increased IL-6 production, the loss of Ku86 and Clusterin 50-55 kDa pro-apoptotic isoform. Conversely, we observed the overexpression of Bax and the 40 kDa prosurvival sClusterin (sCLU) isoform. Bax co-localized with Ku70 that was found atypically expressed in the cytoplasm of advanced stage colon cancers (Dukes'C-D; n = 22). IL-6 treatment of a colon cancer cell line, Caco-2, modulated the expression of genes involved in tumor invasion and apoptosis, as observed by microarrays. In particular, IL-6 downmodulated Bax expression at mRNA level. Concomitantly, IL-6 exposure influenced Bax also at protein level acting on the Bax-Ku70-sCLU physical interactions in the cytoplasm, by affecting the Ku70 acetylation and phosphorylation state, thus leading to the inhibition of Bax pro-apoptotic activity. In addition, we found that IL-6 treatment induced a significant downregulation of Ku86 and a strong increase of sCLU, confirming tumor biopsies data. In contrast Somatostatin treatment of Caco-2 cells was able to restore apoptosis, demonstrating that Ku70-Bax-CLU interactions could be dynamically modulated. Hence, IL-6 could favor tumor expansion, promoting cell survival and apoptosis escape throughout the different stages of tumor evolution. Uncovering the molecular mechanisms of action of these factors may offer strategies for selectively manipulate the cancer cells sensitivity to therapy.

Pubmed ID: 19177010


  • Pucci S
  • Mazzarelli P
  • Paola M
  • Sesti F
  • Fabiola S
  • Boothman DA
  • David BA
  • Spagnoli LG
  • Luigi SG


Cell cycle (Georgetown, Tex.)

Publication Data

February 1, 2009

Associated Grants

  • Agency: NCI NIH HHS, Id: P30 CA013148
  • Agency: NCI NIH HHS, Id: R01 CA078530
  • Agency: NCI NIH HHS, Id: R01 CA102792
  • Agency: NIAID NIH HHS, Id: U19 AI067773
  • Agency: NIAID NIH HHS, Id: U19 AI067773-05

Mesh Terms

  • Antigens, Nuclear
  • Cell Death
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Clusterin
  • Colonic Neoplasms
  • DNA Helicases
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Disease Progression
  • Gene Expression
  • Humans
  • Interleukin-6
  • Protein Isoforms
  • bcl-2-Associated X Protein