PTK6 inhibition suppresses metastases of triple-negative breast cancer via SNAIL-dependent E-cadherin regulation

Koichi Ito, Sun Hee Park, Anupma Nayak, Jessica H. Byerly, Hanna Y. Irie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


Patients with triple-negative breast cancers (TNBC) are at high risk for recurrent or metastatic disease despite standard treatment, underscoring the need for novel therapeutic targets and strategies. Here we report that protein tyrosine kinase 6 (PTK6) is expressed in approximately 70% of TNBCs where it acts to promote survival and metastatic lung colonization. PTK6 downregulation in mesenchymal TNBC cells suppressed migration and three-dimensional culture growth, and enhanced anoikis, resistance to which is considered a prerequisite for metastasis. PTK6 downregulation restored E-cadherin levels via proteasome-dependent degradation of the E-cadherin repressor SNAIL. Beyond being functionally required in TNBC cells, kinase-active PTK6 also suppressed E-cadherin expression, promoted cell migration, and increased levels of mesenchymal markers in nontransformed MCF10A breast epithelial cells, consistent with a role in promoting an epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT). SNAIL downregulation and E-cadherin upregulation mediated by PTK6 inhibition induced anoikis, leading to impaired metastatic lung colonization in vivo. Finally, effects of PTK6 downregulation were phenocopied by treatment with a recently developed PTK6 kinase inhibitor, further implicating kinase activity in regulation of EMT and metastases. Our findings illustrate the clinical potential for PTK6 inhibition to improve treatment of patients with high-risk TNBC.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4406-4417
Number of pages12
JournalCancer Research
Issue number15
StatePublished - 1 Aug 2016


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