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This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Zhang, X., Wu, H., Dobson, J. R., Browne, G., Hong, D., Akech, J., . . . Lian, J. B. (2015). Expression of the IL-11 gene in metastatic cells is supported by Runx2-smad and Runx2-cJun complexes induced by TGFβ1. Journal of Cellular Biochemistry, 116(9), 2098-2108, which has been published in final form at DOI: 10.1002/jcb.25167. This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Self-Archiving.


In tumor cells, two factors are abnormally increased that contribute to metastatic bone disease: Runx2, a transcription factor that promotes expression of metastasis related and osteolytic genes; and IL-11, a secreted osteolytic cytokine. Here, we addressed a compelling question: Does Runx2 regulate IL-11 gene expression? We find a positive correlation between Runx2, IL-11 and TGFβ1, a driver of the vicious cycle of metastatic bone disease, in prostate cancer (PC) cell lines representing early (LNCaP) and late (PC3) stage disease. Further, like Runx2 knockdown, IL-11 knockdown significantly reduced expression of several osteolytic factors. Modulation of Runx2 expression results in corresponding changes in IL-11 expression. The IL-11 gene has Runx2, AP-1 sites and Smad binding elements located on the IL-11 promoter. Here, we demonstrated that Runx2-c-Jun as well as Runx2-Smad complexes upregulate IL-11 expression. Functional studies identified a significant loss of IL-11 expression in PC3 cells in the presence of the Runx2-HTY mutant protein, a mutation that disrupts Runx2-Smad signaling. In response to TGFβ1 and in the presence of Runx2, we observed a 30-fold induction of IL-11 expression, accompanied by increased c-Jun binding to the IL-11 promoter. Immunoprecipitation and in situ co-localization studies demonstrated that Runx2 and c-Jun form nuclear complexes in PC3 cells. Thus, TGFβ1 signaling induces two independent transcriptional pathways - AP-1 and Runx2. These transcriptional activators converge on IL-11 as a result of Runx2-Smad and Runx2-c-Jun interactions to amplify IL-11 gene expression that, together with Runx2, supports the osteolytic pathology of cancer induced bone disease.

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