Interleukin-6 drives melanoma cell motility through p38α-MAPK-dependent up-regulation of WNT5A expression.

Rickard Linnskog, Gunilla Jönsson, Lena Axelsson, Chandra Prasad, Tommy Andersson

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Extensive research has demonstrated a tumor-promoting role of increased WNT5A expression in malignant melanoma. However, very little light has been shed upon how WNT5A expression is up-regulated in melanoma. A potential regulator of WNT5A expression is the pro-inflammatory cytokine Interleukin (IL)-6, which shares the ability of WNT5A to increase melanoma cell invasion. Here, we investigate whether IL-6 can promote melanoma cell motility through an increased expression of WNT5A. We clearly demonstrate that the WNT5A-antagonistic peptide Box5 could inhibit IL-6-induced melanoma cell migration and invasion. Furthermore, IL-6 stimulation of the human melanoma cell lines HTB63 and A375 increased the expression of WNT5A in a dose-dependent manner. To identify the signaling mechanism responsible for this up-regulation, we explored the involvement of the three main signals induced by IL-6; STAT3, Akt and ERK 1/2. Of these, only STAT3 was activated by IL-6 in the melanoma cell lines tested. However, the STAT3 inhibitor S3I-201 failed to inhibit IL-6-induced WNT5A up-regulation in HTB63 and A375 cells. Nor did STAT3 siRNA silencing affect the expression of WNT5A. In search of an alternative signaling mechanism, we detected IL-6-induced activation of p38-MAPK in HTB63 and A375 cells. The p38-MAPK inhibitor SB203580 abolished the IL-6-induced WNT5A up-regulation and blocked IL-6-induced melanoma cell invasion. The latter effect could be rescued by the addition of recombinant WNT5A. Notably, immunoprecipitation analysis revealed that only the p38α-MAPK isoform was activated by IL-6, and subsequent siRNA silencing of p38α-MAPK abolished the IL-6-induced up-regulation of WNT5A. Taken together, we demonstrate a novel link between the two melanoma pro-metastatic agents IL-6 and WNT5A explaining how IL-6 can increase melanoma cell invasion and thus promote the metastatic process. This finding provides a basis for future therapeutic intervention of melanoma progression.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1365-1378
JournalMolecular Oncology
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2014

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Cancer and Oncology


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