The tumour suppressor C/EBPθ inhibits FBXW7 expression and promotes mammary tumour metastasis

Kuppusamy Balamurugan, Ju Ming Wang, Hsin Hwa Tsai, Shikha Sharan, Miriam Anver, Robert Leighty, Esta Sterneck

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81 Citations (Scopus)


Inflammation and hypoxia are known to promote the metastatic progression of tumours. The CCAAT/enhancer-binding protein-θ (C/EBPθ, CEBPD) is an inflammatory response gene and candidate tumour suppressor, but its physiological role in tumourigenesis in vivo is unknown. Here, we demonstrate a tumour suppressor function of C/EBPθ using transgenic mice overexpressing the Neu/Her2/ERBB2 proto-oncogene in the mammary gland. Unexpectedly, this study also revealed that C/EBPθ is necessary for efficient tumour metastasis. We show that C/EBPθ is induced by hypoxia in tumours in vivo and in breast tumour cells in vitro, and that C/EBPθ-deficient cells exhibit reduced glycolytic metabolism and cell viability under hypoxia. C/EBPθ supports CXCR4 expression. On the other hand, C/EBPθ directly inhibits expression of the tumour suppressor F-box and WD repeat-domain containing 7 gene (FBXW7, FBW7, AGO, Cdc4), encoding an F-box protein that promotes degradation of the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR). Consequently, C/EBPθ enhances mTOR/AKT/S6K1 signalling and augments translation and activity of hypoxia-inducible factor-1α (HIF-1α), which is necessary for hypoxia adaptation. This work provides new insight into the mechanisms by which metastasis-promoting signals are induced specifically under hypoxia.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4106-4117
Number of pages12
JournalEMBO Journal
Issue number24
Publication statusPublished - 2010 Dec 15

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Molecular Biology
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)


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