α-Catulin is an oncoprotein that helps sustain proliferation by preventing cellular senescence. Here, we report that α-catulin also drives malignant invasion and metastasis. α-Catulin was upregulated in highly invasive non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) cell lines, where its ectopic expression or short-hairpin RNA-mediated attenuation enhanced or limited invasion or metastasis, respectively. α-Catulin interacted with integrin-linked kinase (ILK), a serine/threonine protein kinase implicated in cancer cell proliferation, antiapoptosis, invasion, and angiogenesis. Attenuation of ILK or α-catulin reciprocally blocked cell migration and invasion induced by the other protein. Mechanistic investigations revealed that α-catulin activated Akt-NF-κB signaling downstream of ILK, which in turn led to increased expression of fibronectin and integrin αvβ3. Pharmacologic or antibody-mediated blockade of NF-κB or αvβ3 was sufficient to inhibit α-catulin-induced cell migration and invasion. Clinically, high levels of expression of α-catulin and ILK were associated with poor overall survival in patients with NSCLC. Taken together, our study shows that α-catulin plays a critical role in cancer metastasis by activating the ILK-mediated Akt-NF-κB-αvβ3 signaling axis.
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