Axl mediates tumor invasion and chemosensitivity through PI3K/Akt signaling pathway and is transcriptionally regulated by slug in breast carcinoma



The invasion and chemoresistance are crucial causes of morbidity and relapse for cancer patients. Axl is implicated in the modulation of cell invasion, cancer metastasis, and chemosensitivity in human breast carcinoma cell lines. Both breast cancer cell lines and tissues displayed increased expression of Axl, and it over expressed in highly metastatic breast cancer. The altered expression level of Axl was corresponding to the changed invasive phenotype and chemosensitivity of MDA-MB-231 cells both in vitro and in vivo. Further data indicated that experimental inhibition of Axl by RNAi assay inhibited phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K)/Akt/GSK3β signaling pathway, resulted in the decrease of Slug expression, and further suppressed cell invasion properties and chemosensitivity. What is more, after the detection and statistics in human breast cancer specimens, we found the Axl expression was closely correlated with histological grade, lymph node metastasis, and clinical stage (P < 0.01). Taken together, these findings indicate that Axl exerts the role of tumor metastasis and chemosensitivity through activation of the PI3K/Akt/GSK3β signaling pathway, which is transcriptionally regulated by Slug. Our findings support the possibility that Axl is a novel regulator. It means by targeting Axl or its related signaling pathways, we can reduce the invasion and chemosensitivity of breast tumor. © 2014 IUBMB Life, 66(7):507–518, 2014