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Keywords:

  • endocrine-therapy;
  • Fak;
  • IL6;
  • metastasis;
  • Ret

Abstract

We show that elevated levels of Ret receptor are found in different sub-types of human breast cancers and that high Ret correlates with decreased metastasis-free survival. The role of Ret in ER+ breast cancer models was explored combining in vitro and in vivo approaches. Our analyses revealed that ligand-induced Ret activation: (i) stimulates migration of breast cancer cells; (ii) rescues cells from anti-proliferative effects of endocrine treatment and (iii) stimulates expression of cytokines in the presence of endocrine agents. Indeed, we uncovered a positive feed-forward loop between the inflammatory cytokine IL6 and Ret that links them at the expression and the functional level. In vivo inhibition of Ret in a metastatic breast cancer model inhibits tumour outgrowth and metastatic potential. Ret inhibition blocks the feed-forward loop by down-regulating Ret levels, as well as decreasing activity of Fak, an integrator of IL6-Ret signalling. Our results suggest that Ret kinase should be considered as a novel therapeutic target in subsets of breast cancer.