Gene Summary

Gene:TNFRSF11A; TNF receptor superfamily member 11a
Summary:The protein encoded by this gene is a member of the TNF-receptor superfamily. This receptors can interact with various TRAF family proteins, through which this receptor induces the activation of NF-kappa B and MAPK8/JNK. This receptor and its ligand are important regulators of the interaction between T cells and dendritic cells. This receptor is also an essential mediator for osteoclast and lymph node development. Mutations at this locus have been associated with familial expansile osteolysis, autosomal recessive osteopetrosis, and Paget disease of bone. Alternatively spliced transcript variants have been described for this locus. [provided by RefSeq, Aug 2012]
Databases:VEGA, OMIM, HGNC, Ensembl, GeneCard, Gene
Protein:tumor necrosis factor receptor superfamily member 11A
Source:NCBIAccessed: 11 March, 2017


What does this gene/protein do?
Show (27)
Pathways:What pathways are this gene/protein implicaed in?
Show (2)

Cancer Overview

Research Indicators

Publications Per Year (1992-2017)
Graph generated 11 March 2017 using data from PubMed using criteria.

Literature Analysis

Mouse over the terms for more detail; many indicate links which you can click for dedicated pages about the topic.

  • Chromosome 18
  • Denosumab
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Breast Cancer
  • Osteolysis
  • Receptors, Cytoplasmic and Nuclear
  • Messenger RNA
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Carrier Proteins
  • Osteosarcoma
  • Cell Movement
  • Prostate Cancer
  • Giant Cell Tumor of Bone
  • Oligonucleotide Array Sequence Analysis
  • Multiple Myeloma
  • Genetic Predisposition
  • Receptor Activator of Nuclear Factor-kappa B
  • RANK Ligand
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor alpha-Induced Protein 3
  • NF-kappa B
  • Lung Cancer
  • Gene Expression
  • Cancer Gene Expression Regulation
  • Apoptosis
  • Osteoclasts
  • Osteoblasts
  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Membrane Glycoproteins
  • Receptors, Tumor Necrosis Factor
  • Stromal Cells
  • Cell Survival
  • Mutation
  • Bone Cancer
  • Staging
  • Transfection
  • Osteoprotegerin
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Glycoproteins
Tag cloud generated 11 March, 2017 using data from PubMed, MeSH and CancerIndex

Specific Cancers (5)

Data table showing topics related to specific cancers and associated disorders. Scope includes mutations and abnormal protein expression.

Note: list is not exhaustive. Number of papers are based on searches of PubMed (click on topic title for arbitrary criteria used).

Latest Publications: TNFRSF11A (cancer-related)

Tsubaki M, Takeda T, Yoshizumi M, et al.
RANK-RANKL interactions are involved in cell adhesion-mediated drug resistance in multiple myeloma cell lines.
Tumour Biol. 2016; 37(7):9099-110 [PubMed] Related Publications
Interaction between multiple myeloma (MM) cells and the bone marrow microenvironment plays a critical role in MM pathogenesis and the development of drug resistance. Recently, it has been reported that MM cells express the receptor activator of nuclear factor-κB (NF-κB) (RANK). However, the role of the RANK/RANK ligand (RANKL) system in drug resistance remains unclear. In this study, we demonstrated a novel function of the RANK/RANKL system in promoting drug resistance in MM. We found that RANKL treatment induced drug resistance in RANK-expressing but not RANK-negative cell lines. RANKL stimulation of RANK-expressing cells increased multidrug resistance protein 1 (MDR1), breast cancer resistance protein (BCRP), and lung resistance protein 1 (LRP1) expression and decreased Bim expression through various signaling molecules. RNA silencing of Bim expression induced drug resistance, but the RANKL-mediated drug resistance could not be overcome through the RNA silencing of MDR1, BCRP, and LRP1 expression. These results indicate that the RANK/RANKL system induces chemoresistance through the activation of multiple signal transduction pathways and by decreasing Bim expression in RANK-positive MM cells. These findings may prove to be useful in the development of cell adhesion-mediated drug resistance inhibitors in RANK-positive MM cells.

Wang J, Liu Y, Wang L, et al.
Clinical prognostic significance and pro-metastatic activity of RANK/RANKL via the AKT pathway in endometrial cancer.
Oncotarget. 2016; 7(5):5564-75 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
RANK/RANKL plays a key role in metastasis of certain malignant tumors, which makes it a promising target for developing novel therapeutic strategies for cancer. However, the prognostic value and pro-metastatic activity of RANK in endometrial cancer (EC) remain to be determined. Thus, the present study investigated the effect of RANK on the prognosis of EC patients, as well as the pro-metastatic activity of EC cells. The results indicated that those with high expression of RANK showed decreased overall survival and progression-free survival. Statistical analysis revealed the positive correlations between RANK/RANKL expression and metastasis-related factors. Additionally, RANK/RANKL significantly promoted cell migration/invasion via activating AKT/β-catenin/Snail pathway in vitro. However, RANK/RANKL-induced AKT activation could be suppressed after osteoprotegerin (OPG) treatment. Furthermore, the combination of medroxyprogesterone acetate (MPA) and RANKL could in turn attenuate the effect of RANKL alone. Similarly, MPA could partially inhibit the RANK-induced metastasis in an orthotopic mouse model via suppressing AKT/β-catenin/Snail pathway. Therefore, therapeutic inhibition of MPA in RANK/RANKL-induced metastasis was mediated by AKT/β-catenin/Snail pathway both in vitro and in vivo, suggesting a potential target of RANK for gene-based therapy for EC.

Qiao M, Wu D, Carey M, et al.
Multi-Scale Agent-Based Multiple Myeloma Cancer Modeling and the Related Study of the Balance between Osteoclasts and Osteoblasts.
PLoS One. 2015; 10(12):e0143206 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
RESEARCH BACKGROUND: Currently, multiple myeloma is the second most common hematological malignancy in the U.S., constituting 1% of all cancers. With conventional treatment, the median survival time is typically 3-4 years, although it can be extended to 5-7 years or longer with advanced treatments. Recent research indicated that an increase in osteoclast (OC) activity is often associated withmultiple myeloma (MM) and that a decrease inosteoblast (OB) activity contributesto the osteolytic lesions in MM. Normally, the populations of OCs and OBs are inequilibrium, and an imbalance in this statecontributes to the development of lesions.
RESEARCH PROCEDURES: A multi-scale agent-based multiple myeloma model was developed to simulate the proliferation, migration and death of OBs and OCs. Subsequently, this model was employed to investigate the efficacy of thethree most commonly used drugs for MM treatment under the following two premises: the reduction in the progression of MM and the re-establishment of the equilibrium between OCs and OBs.
RESEARCH PURPOSES: The simulated results not only demonstrated the capacity of the model to choose optimal combinations of the drugs but also showed that the optimal use of the three drugs can restore the balance between OCs and OBs as well as kill MMs. Furthermore, the drug synergism analysis function of the model revealed that restoring the balance between OBs and OCs can significantly increase the efficacy of drugs against tumor cells.

Beuselinck B, Jean-Baptiste J, Couchy G, et al.
RANK/OPG ratio of expression in primary clear-cell renal cell carcinoma is associated with bone metastasis and prognosis in patients treated with anti-VEGFR-TKIs.
Br J Cancer. 2015; 113(9):1313-22 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Bone metastases (BMs) are associated with poor outcome in metastatic clear-cell renal carcinoma (m-ccRCC) treated with anti-vascular endothelial growth factor tyrosine kinase inhibitors (anti-VEGFR-TKIs). We aimed to investigate whether expression in the primary tumour of genes involved in the development of BM is associated with outcome in m-ccRCC patients treated with anti-VEGFR-TKIs.
METHODS: Metastatic clear-cell renal cell carcinoma patients with available fresh-frozen tumour and treated with anti-VEGFR-TKIs. Quantitative real-time PCR (qRT-PCR) for receptor activator of NF-kB (RANK), RANK-ligand (RANKL), osteoprotegerin (OPG), the proto-oncogene SRC and DKK1 (Dickkopf WNT signalling pathway inhibitor-1). Time-to-event analysis by Kaplan-Meier estimates and Cox regression.
RESULTS: We included 129 m-ccRCC patients treated between 2005 and 2013. An elevated RANK/OPG ratio was associated with shorter median time to metastasis (HR 0.50 (95% CI 0.29-0.87); P=0.014), shorter time to BM (HR 0.54 (95% CI 0.31-0.97); P=0.037), shorter median overall survival (mOS) since initial diagnosis (HR 2.27 (95% CI 1.44-3.60); P=0.0001), shorter median progression-free survival (HR 0.44 (95% CI 0.28-0.71); P=0.001) and mOS (HR 0.31 (95% CI 0.19-0.52); P<0.0001) on first-line anti-VEGFR-TKIs in the metastatic setting. Higher RANK expression was associated with shorter mOS on first-line anti-VEGFR-TKIs (HR 0.46 (95% CI 0.29-0.73); P=0.001).
CONCLUSIONS: RANK/OPG ratio of expression in primary ccRCC is associated with BM and prognosis in patients treated with anti-VEGFR-TKIs. Prospective validation is warranted.

Shang WQ, Li H, Liu LB, et al.
RANKL/RANK interaction promotes the growth of cervical cancer cells by strengthening the dialogue between cervical cancer cells and regulation of IL-8 secretion.
Oncol Rep. 2015; 34(6):3007-16 [PubMed] Related Publications
Receptor activator for nuclear factor κB ligand (RANKL) is a member of the tumor necrosis factor (TNF) family. The interaction between RANKL and its receptor RANK plays an important role in the development and function of diverse tissues. However, the expression and role of RANKL in cervical cancer are still unknown. In the present study, we found that RANKL and RANK were highly co-expressed in cervical cancer. HeLa and SiHa cells secreted soluble RANKL (sRANKL), expressed member RANKL (mRANKL) and RANK. Recombinant human RANKL protein had no effect on the viability of HeLa and SiHa cells. Yet, blocking RANKL with an anti-human RANKL neutralizing antibody (α-RANKL) or recombinant human osteoprotegrin (OPG) protein resulted in the downregulation of Ki-67 and B-cell lymphoma 2 (Bcl-2) expression and an increase in Fas and Fas ligand (FasL) expression, as well as a high level of viability and a low level of apoptosis in the HeLa and SiHa cells. In addition, α-RANKL led to a decrease in IL-8 secretion. Recombinant human IL-8 protein reversed the effect of α-RANKL on the expression of proliferation- and apoptosis‑related molecules, and proliferation and apoptosis in the HeLa and SiHa cells. The present study suggests that a high level of mRANKL/RANK expression in cervical cancer lesions plays an important role in the rapid growth of cervical cancer cells possibly through strengthening the dialogue between cervical cancer cells and regulation of IL-8 secretion, which may be a possible target for cervical cancer therapy.

Li R, Zhang K, Penedo TL, et al.
The RANK Pathway in Advanced Breast Cancer: Does Src Play a Role?
Appl Immunohistochem Mol Morphol. 2016; 24(1):42-50 [PubMed] Related Publications
Receptor activator of NF-κB (RANK) and its ligand, RANKL, are essential for osteoclastogenesis and modulate osteolytic bone metastasis. The RANKL/RANK system is also fundamental for mammary gland development and plays a potential role in breast carcinogenesis. c-Src, a nonreceptor tyrosine kinase downstream of RANK, is overexpressed in most breast cancers and plays a key role in several transduction pathways. The aim of the study was to examine the expression of these molecules in tissue microarrays constructed from 62 advanced breast cancers and 10 breast cancers controls (no metastasis after follow-up). Significantly higher levels of RANK and lower levels of RANKL were found in triple-negative (ER-/PR-/HER2-) tumors when compared with luminal subtypes, whereas their levels in the HER2 subtype were quantitatively in between. RANK expression was significantly associated with tumor grade/differentiation by multivariate analysis. Despite their high expression in bone, neither molecule in primary tumors seemed to be related to a bone-seeking phenotype. Rather, they were significantly correlated with a brain-metastatic phenotype. RANKL and RANK were significantly associated with survival outcomes. Further, Src expression showed a significantly positive linear relationship with RANK, suggesting a potential mechanism of the RANKL-RANK axis in regulating breast cancer cell differentiation and antiapoptosis. Thus, these molecules may be potential therapeutic targets, especially in triple-negative tumors, for which the only systemic treatment option is cytotoxic chemotherapy.

Brodowicz T, Hemetsberger M, Windhager R
Denosumab for the treatment of giant cell tumor of the bone.
Future Oncol. 2015; 11(13):1881-94 [PubMed] Related Publications
Giant cell tumor of bone is typically composed of neoplastic stromal cells and non-neoplastic osteoclastic giant cells. RANK-expressing osteoclastic giant cells are recruited by RANK ligand excreted by the stromal cells, and used by these neoplastic cells to create expansion space. Denosumab specifically binds to and inhibits RANK ligand, thereby eradicating osteoclastic giant cells from the tumor and thus reducing osteolytic activity. Clinical studies reported disease stabilization and clinical benefit in terms of reduced pain and analgesics use, avoided surgeries or surgeries with less morbid procedures. Adverse events observed in patients with giant cell tumor of bone were consistent with the known safety profile of denosumab with a very low incidence of hypocalcemia and osteonecrosis. Overall, denosumab was shown to suppress osteolytic activity and slow disease progression and is thus a treatment option for patients with giant cell tumor of bone.

Cicchini M, Chakrabarti R, Kongara S, et al.
Autophagy regulator BECN1 suppresses mammary tumorigenesis driven by WNT1 activation and following parity.
Autophagy. 2014; 10(11):2036-52 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Earlier studies reported allelic deletion of the essential autophagy regulator BECN1 in breast cancers implicating BECN1 loss, and likely defective autophagy, in tumorigenesis. Recent studies have questioned the tumor suppressive role of autophagy, as autophagy-related gene (Atg) defects generally suppress tumorigenesis in well-characterized mouse tumor models. We now report that, while it delays or does not alter mammary tumorigenesis driven by Palb2 loss or ERBB2 and PyMT overexpression, monoallelic Becn1 loss promotes mammary tumor development in 2 specific contexts, namely following parity and in association with wingless-type MMTV integration site family, member 1 (WNT1) activation. Our studies demonstrate that Becn1 heterozygosity, which results in immature mammary epithelial cell expansion and aberrant TNFRSF11A/TNR11/RANK (tumor necrosis factor receptor superfamily, member 11a, NFKB activator) signaling, promotes mammary tumorigenesis in multiparous FVB/N mice and in cooperation with the progenitor cell-transforming WNT1 oncogene. Similar to our Becn1(+/-);MMTV-Wnt1 mouse model, low BECN1 expression and an activated WNT pathway gene signature correlate with the triple-negative subtype, TNFRSF11A axis activation and poor prognosis in human breast cancers. Our results suggest that BECN1 may have nonautophagy-related roles in mammary development, provide insight in the seemingly paradoxical roles of BECN1 in tumorigenesis, and constitute the basis for further studies on the pathophysiology and treatment of clinically aggressive triple negative breast cancers (TNBCs).

Boopalan T, Arumugam A, Parada J, et al.
Receptor activator for nuclear factor-κB ligand signaling promotes progesterone-mediated estrogen-induced mammary carcinogenesis.
Cancer Sci. 2015; 106(1):25-33 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Breast cancer is a leading cause of cancer-related death in women. Prolonged exposure to the ovarian hormones estrogen and progesterone increases the risk of breast cancer. Although estrogen is known as a primary factor in mammary carcinogenesis, very few studies have investigated the role of progesterone. Receptor activator for nuclear factor-κB (NF-κB) ligand (RANKL) plays an important role in progesterone-induced mammary carcinogenesis. However, the molecular mechanism underlying RANKL-induced mammary carcinogenesis remains unknown. In our current study, we show that RANKL induces glioma-associated oncogene homolog 1 (GLI-1) in estrogen-induced progesterone-mediated mammary carcinogenesis. In vivo experiments were carried out using ACI rats and in vitro experiments were carried out in MCF-7 cells. In ACI rats, mifepristone significantly reduced the incidence of mammary tumors. Likewise, mifepristone also inhibited the proliferation of MCF-7 cells. Hormone treatments induced RANKL, receptor activator of NF-κB (RANK), and NF-κB in a protein kinase B-dependent manner and inhibited apoptosis by activation of anti-apoptotic protein Bcl2 in mammary tumors and MCF-7 cells. Mechanistic studies in MCF-7 cells reveal that RANKL induced upstream stimulatory factor-1 and NF-κB, resulting in subsequent activation of their downstream target GLI-1. We have identified that progesterone mediates estrogen-induced mammary carcinogenesis through activation of GLI-1 in a RANKL-dependent manner.

Song FN, Duan M, Liu LZ, et al.
RANKL promotes migration and invasion of hepatocellular carcinoma cells via NF-κB-mediated epithelial-mesenchymal transition.
PLoS One. 2014; 9(9):e108507 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Metastasis accounts for the most deaths in patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Receptor activator of nuclear factor kappa B ligand (RANKL) is associated with cancer metastasis, while its role in HCC remains largely unknown.
METHODS: Immunohistochemistry was performed to determine the expression of RANK in HCC tissue (n = 398). Quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR) and Western blot were used to examine the expression of RANK, E-cadherin, N-cadherin, vimentin, Snail, Slug, Twist and MMPs in HCC cells. Wound healing and Transwell assays were used to evaluate cell migration and invasion ability.
RESULTS: We found that expression of RANK, the receptor of RANKL, was significantly higher in HCC tumor tissues than in peritumor liver tissues (p<0.001). Constitutive expression of RANK was detected in HCC cell lines, which can be up-regulated when HCC cells were stimulated with RANKL. Notably, in vitro experiments showed that activation of RANKL-RANK axis significantly promoted migration and invasion ability of HCC cells. In addition, RANKL stimulation increased the expression levels of N-cadherin, Snail, and Twist, while decreased the expression of E-cadherin, with concomitant activation of NF-κB signaling pathway. Moreover, administration of the NF-κB inhibitor attenuated RANKL-induced migration, invasion and epithelial-mesenchymal transition of HCC cells.
CONCLUSIONS: RANKL could potentiate migration and invasion ability of RANK-positive HCC cells through NF-κB pathway-mediated epithelial-mesenchymal transition, which means that RANKL-RANK axis could be a potential target for HCC therapy.

Schieferdecker A, Voigt M, Riecken K, et al.
Denosumab mimics the natural decoy receptor osteoprotegerin by interacting with its major binding site on RANKL.
Oncotarget. 2014; 5(16):6647-53 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Bone homeostasis critically relies on the RANKL-RANK-OPG axis which can be targeted by the fully human monoclonal antibody denosumab in conditions with increased bone resporption such as bone metastases. The binding site and therefore the molecular mechanism by which this antibody inhibits RANKL has not been characterized so far. Here, we used random peptide phage display library screenings to identify the denosumab epitope on RANKL. Alignments of phage derived peptide sequences with RANKL suggested that this antibody recognized a linear epitope between position T233 and Y241. Mutational analysis confirmed the core residues as critical for this interaction. The spatial localization of this epitope on a 3-dimensional model of RANKL showed that it overlapped with the major binding sites of OPG and RANK on RANKL. We conclude that denosumab inhibits RANKL by both functional and molecular mimicry of the natural decoy receptor OPG.

Kushlinskii NE, Timofeev YS, Solov'ev YN, et al.
Components of the RANK/RANKL/OPG system, IL-6, IL-8, IL-16, MMP-2, and calcitonin in the sera of patients with bone tumors.
Bull Exp Biol Med. 2014; 157(4):520-3 [PubMed] Related Publications
Serum levels of sRANKL, RANK, OPG, IL-8, IL-6, IL-16, MMP-2, and calcitonin were measured by ELISA in patients with malignant, borderline, and benign bone tumors and in healthy individuals (control). Serum levels of RANK, OPG, IL-8, IL-6, and the OPG/sRANKL ratio were significantly higher, while the level of MMP-2 was significantly lower in patients with bone tumors than in controls. Serum concentration of IL-16 in osteosarcoma patients was significantly lower than in chondrosarcoma patients. No significant differences between bone sarcomas of different differentiation were detected for any of the studied markers. Calcitonin level depended on the tumor location and type.

Hein A, Bayer CM, Schrauder MG, et al.
Polymorphisms in the RANK/RANKL genes and their effect on bone specific prognosis in breast cancer patients.
Biomed Res Int. 2014; 2014:842452 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
The receptor activator of NF-κB (RANK) pathway is involved in bone health as well as breast cancer (BC) pathogenesis and progression. Whereas the therapeutic implication of this pathway is established for the treatment of osteoporosis and bone metastases, the application in adjuvant BC is currently investigated. As genetic variants in this pathway have been described to influence bone health, aim of this study was the prognostic relevance of genetic variants in RANK and RANKL. Single nucleotide polymorphisms in RANK(L) (rs1054016/rs1805034/rs35211496) were genotyped and analyzed with regard to bone metastasis-free survival (BMFS), disease-free survival, and overall survival for a retrospective cohort of 1251 patients. Cox proportional hazard models were built to examine the prognostic influence in addition to commonly established prognostic factors. The SNP rs1054016 seems to influence BMFS. Patients with two minor alleles had a more favorable prognosis than patients with at least one common allele (HR 0.37 (95% CI: 0.17, 0.84)), whereas other outcome parameters remained unaffected. rs1805034 and rs35211496 had no prognostic relevance. The effect of rs1054016(RANKL) adds to the evidence that the RANK pathway plays a role in BC pathogenesis and progression with respect to BMFS, emphasizing the connection between BC and bone health.

Zheng Y, Chow SO, Boernert K, et al.
Direct crosstalk between cancer and osteoblast lineage cells fuels metastatic growth in bone via auto-amplification of IL-6 and RANKL signaling pathways.
J Bone Miner Res. 2014; 29(9):1938-49 [PubMed] Related Publications
The bone microenvironment and its modification by cancer and host cell interactions is a key driver of skeletal metastatic growth. Interleukin-6 (IL-6) stimulates receptor activator of NF-κB ligand (RANKL) expression in bone cells, and serum IL-6 levels are associated with poor clinical outcomes in cancer patients. We investigated the effects of RANKL on cancer cells and the role of tumor-derived IL-6 within the bone microenvironment. Using human breast cancer cell lines to induce tumors in the bone of immune-deficient mice, we first determined whether RANKL released by cells of the osteoblast lineage directly promotes IL-6 expression by cancer cells in vitro and in vivo. We then disrupted of IL-6 signaling in vivo either via knockdown of IL-6 in tumor cells or through treatment with specific anti-human or anti-mouse IL-6 receptor antibodies to investigate the tumor effect. Finally, we tested the effect of RANK knockdown in cancer cells on cancer growth. We demonstrate that osteoblast lineage-derived RANKL upregulates secretion of IL-6 by breast cancers in vivo and in vitro. IL-6, in turn, induces expression of RANK by cancer cells, which sensitizes the tumor to RANKL and significantly enhances cancer IL-6 release. Disruption in vivo of this auto-amplifying crosstalk by knockdown of IL-6 or RANK in cancer cells, or via treatment with anti-IL-6 receptor antibodies, significantly reduces tumor growth in bone but not in soft tissues. RANKL and IL-6 mediate direct paracrine-autocrine signaling between cells of the osteoblast lineage and cancer cells, significantly enhancing the growth of metastatic breast cancers within bone.

Chu GC, Zhau HE, Wang R, et al.
RANK- and c-Met-mediated signal network promotes prostate cancer metastatic colonization.
Endocr Relat Cancer. 2014; 21(2):311-26 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Prostate cancer (PCa) metastasis to bone is lethal and there is no adequate animal model for studying the mechanisms underlying the metastatic process. Here, we report that receptor activator of NF-κB ligand (RANKL) expressed by PCa cells consistently induced colonization or metastasis to bone in animal models. RANK-mediated signaling established a premetastatic niche through a feed-forward loop, involving the induction of RANKL and c-Met, but repression of androgen receptor (AR) expression and AR signaling pathways. Site-directed mutagenesis and transcription factor (TF) deletion/interference assays identified common TF complexes, c-Myc/Max, and AP4 as critical regulatory nodes. RANKL-RANK signaling activated a number of master regulator TFs that control the epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (Twist1, Slug, Zeb1, and Zeb2), stem cell properties (Sox2, Myc, Oct3/4, and Nanog), neuroendocrine differentiation (Sox9, HIF1α, and FoxA2), and osteomimicry (c-Myc/Max, Sox2, Sox9, HIF1α, and Runx2). Abrogating RANK or its downstream c-Myc/Max or c-Met signaling network minimized or abolished skeletal metastasis in mice. RANKL-expressing LNCaP cells recruited and induced neighboring non metastatic LNCaP cells to express RANKL, c-Met/activated c-Met, while downregulating AR expression. These initially non-metastatic cells, once retrieved from the tumors, acquired the potential to colonize and grow in bone. These findings identify a novel mechanism of tumor growth in bone that involves tumor cell reprogramming via RANK-RANKL signaling, as well as a form of signal amplification that mediates recruitment and stable transformation of non-metastatic bystander dormant cells.

Liu Z, Xu J, Li H, et al.
Bone marrow stromal cells derived MCP-1 reverses the inhibitory effects of multiple myeloma cells on osteoclastogenesis by upregulating the RANK expression.
PLoS One. 2013; 8(12):e82453 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Multiple myeloma (MM) cells are responsible for aberrant osteoclast (OC) activation. However, when cocultured monocytes, but not OC precursors, with MM cells, we made a novel observation that MM cells inhibited receptor activator of nuclear factor κB ligand (RANKL)-induced increase of OC differentiation, OC gene expression, signaling pathways and bone resorption activity. Our results showed that MM cells produced multiple inhibitory cytokines of osteoclastogenesis, such as IL-10, which activated STAT3 signaling and induce OC inhibition. However, cocultures of bone marrow stromal cells (BMSCs) reversed MM-induced OC inhibition. We found that MM cells increased production of MCP-1 from BMSCs and BMSC-derived MCP-1 enhanced OC formation. Mechanistic studies showed that IL-10 downregulated RANK expression in monocytes and thus, inhibited RANKL-induced OC formation. In contrast, MCP-1 upregulated RANK expression and thus, enhanced OC formation. Overall, our studies for the first time demonstrated that MM cell have inhibitory effects on osteoclastogenesis by producing inhibitory cytokines. Our results further indicate that activation of osteoclastogenesis in bone marrow requests the crosstalk of MM cells, BMSCs and their produced cytokines. Thus, our studies provide evidences that targeting bone marrow microenvironmental cells and/or cytokines may be a new approach to treating MM bone destruction.

Wang J, Chen TY, Qin S, et al.
Inhibitory effect of metformin on bone metastasis of cancer via OPG/RANKL/RANK system.
Med Hypotheses. 2013; 81(5):805-6 [PubMed] Related Publications
Diabetes and cancer are both serious health problems worldwide and can lead to a significant burden on society with high incidence. Studies show that diabetes, which may be the reason of cancer metastasis, can increase cancer incidence and mortality. Bone is one of the most preferential metastatic target sites for cancers. Studies also indicate that OPG and RANKL which regulate bone reabsorption play significant roles in the process of bone tumor metastasis. In addition, metformin as a commonly used medicine for type 2 diabetes is a negative regulator of RANKL and inhibits the differentiation of osteoclasts. We present a hypothesis that metformin serves an inhibitory effect on bone metastasis of cancer via OPG/RANKL/RANK system.

Schafer AL, Mumm S, El-Sayed I, et al.
Panostotic expansile bone disease with massive jaw tumor formation and a novel mutation in the signal peptide of RANK.
J Bone Miner Res. 2014; 29(4):911-21 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Precise regulation of bone resorption is critical for skeletal homeostasis. We report a 32-year-old man with a panostotic expansile bone disease and a massive hemorrhagic mandibular tumor. Originally from Mexico, he was deaf at birth and became bow-legged during childhood. There was no family history of skeletal disease. Puberty occurred normally, but during adolescence he experienced difficulty straightening his limbs, sustained multiple fractures, and developed a bony tumor on his chin. By age 18 years, all limbs were misshapen. The mandibular mass grew and protruded from the oral cavity, extending to the level of the lower ribs. Other bony defects included a similar maxillary mass and serpentine limbs. Upon referral at age 27 years, biochemical studies showed serum alkaline phosphatase of 1760 U/L (Nl: 29-111) and other elevated bone turnover markers. Radiography of the limbs showed medullary expansion and cortical thinning with severe bowing. Although the jaw tumors were initially deemed inoperable, mandibular mass excision and staged partial maxillectomy were eventually performed. Tumor histopathology showed curvilinear trabeculae of woven bone on a background of hypocellular fibrous tissue. Fibrous dysplasia of bone was suspected, but there was no mutation in codon 201 of GNAS in samples from blood or tumor. His clinical and radiographic findings, elevated serum markers, and disorganized bone morphology suggested amplified receptor activator of NF-κB (RANK) signaling, even though his disorder differed from conditions with known constitutive activation of RANK signaling (eg, familial expansile osteolysis). We found a unique 12-base pair duplication in the signal peptide of TNFRSF11A, the gene that encodes RANK. No exon or splice site mutations were found in the genes encoding RANK ligand or osteoprotegerin. Alendronate followed by pamidronate therapies substantially decreased his serum alkaline phosphatase activity. This unique patient expands the phenotypes and genetic basis of the mendelian disorders of RANK signaling activation.

Cao H, Zhu K, Qiu L, et al.
Critical role of AKT protein in myeloma-induced osteoclast formation and osteolysis.
J Biol Chem. 2013; 288(42):30399-410 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Abnormal osteoclast formation and osteolysis are the hallmarks of multiple myeloma (MM) bone disease, yet the underlying molecular mechanisms are incompletely understood. Here, we show that the AKT pathway was up-regulated in primary bone marrow monocytes (BMM) from patients with MM, which resulted in sustained high expression of the receptor activator of NF-κB (RANK) in osteoclast precursors. The up-regulation of RANK expression and osteoclast formation in the MM BMM cultures was blocked by AKT inhibition. Conditioned media from MM cell cultures activated AKT and increased RANK expression and osteoclast formation in BMM cultures. Inhibiting AKT in cultured MM cells decreased their growth and ability to promote osteoclast formation. Of clinical significance, systemic administration of the AKT inhibitor LY294002 blocked the formation of tumor tissues in the bone marrow cavity and essentially abolished the MM-induced osteoclast formation and osteolysis in SCID mice. The level of activating transcription factor 4 (ATF4) protein was up-regulated in the BMM cultures from multiple myeloma patients. Adenoviral overexpression of ATF4 activated RANK expression in osteoclast precursors. These results demonstrate a new role of AKT in the MM promotion of osteoclast formation and bone osteolysis through, at least in part, the ATF4-dependent up-regulation of RANK expression in osteoclast precursors.

Supiot S, Gouraud W, Campion L, et al.
Early dynamic transcriptomic changes during preoperative radiotherapy in patients with rectal cancer: a feasibility study.
World J Gastroenterol. 2013; 19(21):3249-54 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
AIM: To develop novel biomarkers of rectal radiotherapy, we measured gene expression profiles on biopsies taken before and during preoperative radiotherapy.
METHODS: Six patients presenting with a locally advanced rectal cancer (T>T2, N0/Nx, M0) eligible for preoperative radiotherapy (45 Gy in 25 fractions) were selected in a pilot study. Six tumor and 3 normal tissues biopsies were taken before and during radiotherapy, after a dose of 7.2 Gy at a median time of 1 h following irradiation (0:27-2:12). Tumor or normal tissue purity was assessed by a pathologist prior to RNA extraction. Mean RNA content was 23 μg/biopsy (14-37) before radiotherapy and 22.7 μg/biopsy (12-35) during radiotherapy. After RNA amplification, biopsies were analysed with 54K HG-U133A Plus 2.0 Affymetrix expression micro-arrays. Data were normalized according to MAS5 algorithm. A gene expression ratio was calculated as: (gene expression during radiotherapy - gene expression before radiotherapy)/gene expression before radiotherapy. Were selected genes that showed a ratio higher than ± 0.5 in all 6 patients.
RESULTS: Microarray analysis showed that preoperative radiotherapy significantly up-regulated 31 genes and down-regulated 6 genes. According to the Gene Ontology project classification, these genes are involved in protein metabolism (ADAMDEC1; AKAP7; CAPN5; CLIC5; CPE; CREB3L1; NEDD4L; RAB27A), ion transport (AKAP7; ATP2A3; CCL28; CLIC5; F2RL2; NEDD4L; SLC6A8), transcription (AKAP7; CREB3L1; ISX; PABPC1L; TXNIP), signal transduction (CAPN5; F2RL2; RAB27A; TNFRSF11A), cell adhesion (ADAMDEC1; PXDN; SPON1; S100A2), immune response (CCL28; PXDN; TNFRSF11A) and apoptosis (ITM2C; PDCD4; PVT1). Up-regulation of 3 genes (CCL28; CLIC5; PDCD4) was detected by 2 different probes and up-regulation of 2 genes (RAB27A; TXNIP) by 3 probes.
CONCLUSION: Micro-arrays can efficiently assess early transcriptomic changes during preoperative radiotherapy for rectal cancer, and may help better understand tumor radioresistance.

Mercatali L, Ricci M, Scarpi E, et al.
RANK/RANK-L/OPG in patients with bone metastases treated with anticancer agents and zoledronic acid: a prospective study.
Int J Mol Sci. 2013; 14(6):10683-93 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Patients with solid cancer frequently develop bone metastases (BM). Zoledronic acid (Zometa®, ZA), routinely used to treat patients with BM, acts on osteoclasts and also has antitumor properties. We aimed to assess the effect of ZA over time in novel bone turnover markers (RANK/receptor activator of nuclear factor-k B ligand (RANK-L)/ Osteoprotegerin (OPG)) and to correlate these with serum N-terminal telopeptide (NTX). The study prospectively evaluated levels of RANK, RANK-L and OPG transcripts by real-time PCR and NTX expression by ELISA in the peripheral blood of 49 consecutive patients with advanced breast, lung or prostate cancer. All patients received the standard ZA schedule and were monitored for 12 months. Median baseline values of RANK, RANK-L and OPG were 78.28 (range 7.34-620.64), 319.06 (21.42-1884.41) and 1.52 (0.10-58.02), respectively. At 12 months, the median RANK-L value had decreased by 22% with respect to the baseline, whereas median OPG levels had increased by about 96%. Consequently, the RANK-L/OPG ratio decreased by 56% from the baseline. Median serum NTX levels decreased over the 12-month period, reaching statistical significance (p < 0.0001). Our results would seem to indicate that ZA modulates RANK, RANK-L and OPG expression, thus decreasing osteoclast activity.

Baldoni S, Sportoletti P, Del Papa B, et al.
NOTCH and NF-κB interplay in chronic lymphocytic leukemia is independent of genetic lesion.
Int J Hematol. 2013; 98(2):153-7 [PubMed] Related Publications
The NOTCH and nuclear factor kappa B (NF-κB) pathways are both constitutively activated in Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL). We first described the NOTCH1 PEST domain mutation in a CLL subgroup, but the activation of the NOTCH pathway in NOTCH1-unmutated cases remains unexplained. Here, we investigated whether genetic lesions in the NF-κB/NOTCH loop might support the NOTCH activation status by sequencing negative (TNFAIP3/A20) and positive (TRAF2, TRAF5, TNFRSF11A/RANK, MAP3K7/TAK1, and CARD11) regulators of NF-κB together with NF-κB targets on the NOTCH pathway, the NOTCH ligands Jagged1 and Jagged2, in CLL patients. The sequence analysis revealed four missense mutations for A20, TRAF2, TRAF5 and RANK1 genes, all causing a change in amino acid group from polar to non-polar, but functional domains were not involved. Specific predictive software analyses confirmed that the amino acid changes have a low-functional impact on the protein. Our results show that in CLL, NF-κB regulators and Jagged are both unmutated, suggesting that the Jagged-mediated interplay between NF-κB and NOTCH is independent of genetic lesions.

Wu B, Yao X, Nie X, Xu R
Epigenetic reactivation of RANK in glioblastoma cells by curcumin: involvement of STAT3 inhibition.
DNA Cell Biol. 2013; 32(6):292-7 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
DNA methylation plays an essential role in carcinogenesis. Promoter hypermethylation can result in transcriptional silencing of specific genes, such as tumor suppressors. Thus far, few reports have investigated the effect of curcumin, an active component of the perennial herb Curcuma longa, on DNA methylation. In the present study, we evaluated the effects of curcumin on receptor activator of NF-κB (RANK) gene expression in human glioblastoma cells. Incubation of cells with therapeutic concentrations of curcumin resulted in a significant elevation of RANK expression at both the mRNA and protein levels in two glioblastoma cell lines. We further confirmed that this elevation was associated with promoter demethylation through methylation-specific polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and bisulfite sequencing PCR. Additionally, we demonstrated that knockdown of STAT3, an oncogenic transcription factor, is sufficient to induce RANK promoter demethylation along with RANK reactivation. These results demonstrated that curcumin induced RANK gene reactivation through epigenetic modification in human glioblastoma cells, and that STAT3 is involved in RANK promoter hypermethylation and epigenetic silencing, thus allowing for further applications of curcumin epigenetic therapy in glioma and therapeutic implications of STAT3 in human glioblastoma.

Tucci M, Stucci S, Savonarola A, et al.
Immature dendritic cells in multiple myeloma are prone to osteoclast-like differentiation through interleukin-17A stimulation.
Br J Haematol. 2013; 161(6):821-31 [PubMed] Related Publications
Interleukin 17A (IL17A), a cytokine involved in allergy, inflammation and osteoclastogenesis, was investigated in multiple myeloma (MM) to assess its role in the osteoclast (OC)-like activity of marrow immature dendritic cells (iDCs). Comparing nine MM patients with control subjects affected by monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance, we found high IL17A expression in the marrow plasma of MM patients in parallel with its deposits within the stromal matrix. Increased expression of the IL17A receptor (IL17RA) was also found in primary myeloma iDCs, which underwent OC-like transdifferentiation after IL17A stimulation. To assess the role of IL17A, we measured the activity of the IL17/IL17RA pathway in IL17A-transdifferentiated iDCs and the expression of functional OC genes by Western blotting and real-time polymerase chain reaction. These cells showed increased RNA transcription of genes enrolled in the maturation of OCs, while NFATC1 and FOS were induced by IL17A, independently of NFKB1 phosphorylation. Moreover, the concurrent phosphorylation of the Lip isoform of CEBPB and the down-regulation of MAFB supported the activation of IL17RA pathway in OC-like transdifferentiated iDCs that was apparently unrelated to TNFRSF11A signalling. These data emphasize the involvement of iDCs in MM hyperactive osteoclastogenesis and suggest that their bone resorption activity is also regulated, at least in vitro, by IL17RA.

Ney JT, Juhasz-Boess I, Gruenhage F, et al.
Genetic polymorphism of the OPG gene associated with breast cancer.
BMC Cancer. 2013; 13:40 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
BACKGROUND: The receptor activator of NF-κB (RANK), its ligand (RANKL) and osteoprotegerin (OPG) have been reported to play a role in the pathophysiological bone turnover and in the pathogenesis of breast cancer. Based on this we investigated the role of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) within RANK, RANKL and OPG and their possible association to breast cancer risk.
METHODS: Genomic DNA was obtained from Caucasian participants consisting of 307 female breast cancer patients and 396 gender-matched healthy controls. We studied seven SNPs in the genes of OPG (rs3102735, rs2073618), RANK (rs1805034, rs35211496) and RANKL (rs9533156, rs2277438, rs1054016) using TaqMan genotyping assays. Statistical analyses were performed using the χ2-tests for 2 x 2 and 2 x 3 tables.
RESULTS: The allelic frequencies (OR: 1.508 CI: 1.127-2.018, p=0.006) and the genotype distribution (p=0.019) of the OPG SNP rs3102735 differed significantly between breast cancer patients and healthy controls. The minor allele C and the corresponding homo- and heterozygous genotypes are more common in breast cancer patients (minor allele C: 18.4% vs. 13.0%; genotype CC: 3.3% vs. 1.3%; genotype CT: 30.3% vs. 23.5%). No significantly changed risk was detected in the other investigated SNPs. Additional analysis showed significant differences when comparing patients with invasive vs. non-invasive tumors (OPG rs2073618) as well as in terms of tumor localization (RANK rs35211496) and body mass index (RANKL rs9533156 and rs1054016).
CONCLUSIONS: This is the first study reporting a significant association of the SNP rs3102735 (OPG) with the susceptibility to develop breast cancer in the Caucasian population.

Milone F, Pivonello C, Cariati F, et al.
Assessment and clinical implications of RANK/RANKL/OPG pathway as markers of bone tumor progression in patients with NET harboring bone metastases.
Biomarkers. 2013; 18(2):121-5 [PubMed] Related Publications
INTRODUCTION: The impact on the survival of bone metastases (BM) in patients with neuroendocrine tumor (NET) is a matter of debate. BM have a key role in causing symptoms and in decreasing patients' quality of life. Although the mechanisms of the development of BM are not completely clear, it is now well understood that the Receptor Activator of Nuclear factor Kappa-B-/Ligand (RANK/RANKL)/osteoprotegerin (OPG) pathway plays a relevant role.
AIM: To characterize the RANK/RANKL/OPG pathway in patients affected with NET.
PATIENTS AND METHODS: Two cohorts of 15 patients each were enrolled in the study; one cohort was affected with NET without BM and the second cohort was affected with NET with BM. The serum RANK/RANKL/OPG pathway was assessed in both the groups.
RESULTS: Serum OPG levels and RANKL/OPG ratio were lower and higher, respectively, in NET patients harboring BM than in those without BM. During the ROC analysis, a cut-off value of 1071 pg/ml for OPG and 0.62 for RANKL/OPG ratio were able to significantly distinguish between the two groups.
CONCLUSIONS: This study indicates that RANK/RANKL/OPG pathway is imbalanced in patients with NET harboring BM. Specific alterations of this pathway could predict an early development of BM.

Owen S, Ye L, Sanders AJ, et al.
Expression profile of receptor activator of nuclear-κB (RANK), RANK ligand (RANKL) and osteoprotegerin (OPG) in breast cancer.
Anticancer Res. 2013; 33(1):199-206 [PubMed] Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Breast cancer, the most common cancer affecting women in the USA and UK, is known to have a high frequency of osteolytic bone metastasis. Receptor activator of nuclear-κB (RANK), RANK ligand (RANKL) and osteoprotegerin (OPG) are a group of important regulators for osteoclast differentiation and activation. These molecules have been implicated in bone metastasis. Since the discovery of the triad of RANK, RANKL and OPG in healthy bone turnover, a better understanding of these factors in bone metastasis has been sought.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: Using our clinical breast cancer cohort, the transcript levels of RANK, RANKL and OPG were examined using real-time quantitative-polymerase chain reaction (qPCR). Expression of these molecules in the immortalised breast cancer cell lines MCF-7 and MDA-MB-231 was also analyzed using qPCR following treatment with β-oestradiol in a concentration-dependent manner.
RESULTS: RANK, RANKL and OPG were all shown to be expressed in the breast cancer cell lines examined. Transcript levels were shown to be reduced in tumour samples when compared with normal tissue. Reduced RANK expression was associated with a worse clinical outcome and levels were significantly reduced in patients with general metastasis, bone metastasis and those who had died of the disease. Patients with reduced RANKL expression were more likely to develop local recurrence, bone metastasis or die from the disease. Using Kaplan-Meier survival analysis, lower expression levels of OPG were found to be associated with significantly better overall patient survival in our cohort.
CONCLUSION: The corresponding prognostic and therapeutic potential is yet to be further investigated. Our data suggest that RANK, RANKL and OPG may potentially be used as novel prognostic markers for bone metastasis and provide new therapeutic targets in the treatment of breast cancer.

Rossi M, Pitari MR, Amodio N, et al.
miR-29b negatively regulates human osteoclastic cell differentiation and function: implications for the treatment of multiple myeloma-related bone disease.
J Cell Physiol. 2013; 228(7):1506-15 [PubMed] Related Publications
Skeletal homeostasis relies upon a fine tuning of osteoclast (OCL)-mediated bone resorption and osteoblast (OBL)-dependent bone formation. This balance is unsettled by multiple myeloma (MM) cells, which impair OBL function and stimulate OCLs to generate lytic lesions. Emerging experimental evidence is disclosing a key regulatory role of microRNAs (miRNAs) in the regulation of bone homeostasis suggesting the miRNA network as potential novel target for the treatment of MM-related bone disease (BD). Here, we report that miR-29b expression decreases progressively during human OCL differentiation in vitro. We found that lentiviral transduction of miR-29b into OCLs, even in the presence of MM cells, significantly impairs tartrate acid phosphatase (TRAcP) expression, lacunae generation, and collagen degradation, which are relevant hallmarks of OCL activity. Accordingly, expression of cathepsin K and metalloproteinase 9 (MMP9) as well as actin ring rearrangement were impaired in the presence of miR-29b. Moreover, we found that canonical targets C-FOS and metalloproteinase 2 are suppressed by constitutive miR-29b expression which also downregulated the master OCL transcription factor, NAFTc-1. Overall, these data indicate that enforced expression of miR-29b impairs OCL differentiation and overcomes OCL activation triggered by MM cells, providing a rationale for miR-29b-based treatment of MM-related BD.

Gianfrancesco F, Rendina D, Merlotti D, et al.
Giant cell tumor occurring in familial Paget's disease of bone: report of clinical characteristics and linkage analysis of a large pedigree.
J Bone Miner Res. 2013; 28(2):341-50 [PubMed] Related Publications
Neoplastic degeneration represents a rare but serious complication of Paget's disease of bone (PDB). Although osteosarcomas have been described in up to 1% of PDB cases, giant cell tumors are less frequent and mainly occur in patients with polyostotic disease. We recently characterized a large pedigree with 14 affected members of whom four developed giant cell tumors at pagetic sites. The high number of affected subjects across multiple generations allowed us to better characterize the clinical phenotype and look for possible susceptibility loci. Of interest, all the affected members had polyostotic PDB, but subjects developing giant cell tumors showed an increased disease severity with a reduced clinical response to bisphosphonate treatment and an increased prevalence of bone pain, deformities, and fractures. Together with an increased occurrence of common pagetic complications, affected patients of this pedigree also evidenced a fivefold higher prevalence of coronary artery disease with respect to either the unaffected family members or a comparative cohort of 150 unrelated PDB cases from the same geographical area. This association was further enhanced in the four cases with PDB and giant cell tumors, all of them developing coronary artery disease before 60 years of age. Despite the early onset and the severe phenotype, PDB patients from this pedigree were negative for the presence of SQSTM1 or TNFRSF11A mutations, previously associated with enhanced disease severity. Genome-wide linkage analysis identified six possible candidate regions on chromosomes 1, 5, 6, 8, 10, and 20. Because the chromosome 8 and 10 loci were next to the TNFRSF11B and OPTN genes, we extended the genetic screening to these two genes, but we failed to identify any causative mutation at both the genomic and transcription level, suggesting that a different genetic defect is associated with PDB and potentially giant cell tumor of bone in this pedigree.

Papanastasiou AD, Sirinian C, Kalofonos HP
Identification of novel human receptor activator of nuclear factor-kB isoforms generated through alternative splicing: implications in breast cancer cell survival and migration.
Breast Cancer Res. 2012; 14(4):R112 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
INTRODUCTION: The receptor activator of nuclear factor-kB (NF-kB) (RANK)/receptor activator of NF-kB ligand (RANKL) axis emerges as a key regulator of breast cancer initiation, progression and metastasis. RANK receptor is a tumor necrosis superfamily member, which upon ligand binding transduces a variety of survival, proliferation, differentiation and migration signals. The majority of these intracellular cues merge through the NF-kB transcription machinery.
METHODS: TNFRSF11A (RANK) variants were identified and cloned in mammalian expression vectors. Their expression was analyzed using real time PCR on RNA from normal tissue, cell lines and breast cancer specimens. Western blot analysis and immunofluoresence stainings were used to study expression and localization of protein isoforms in a panel of breast cancer cell lines and in transfected 293T cells. Luciferase assays were employed to assess the contribution of each isoform alone or in combinations on NF-kB activation. Isoform effect on cell survival after doxorubicin treatment was analyzed through MTT assay. Wound healing and transwell assays were employed to evaluate the effect of TNFRSF11A isoforms on migration of MDA-MB-231 and 293T cells.
RESULTS: We report the identification of three novel TNFRSF11A (RANK) variants, named TNFRSF11A_Δ9, TNFRSF11A_Δ8,9 and TNFRSF11A_Δ7,8,9 which result from the alternative splicing of exons 7 to 9. Interestingly, variant TNFRSF11A_Δ7,8,9 was found to be upregulated in breast cancer cells lines and its expression inversely correlated with tumor grade and proliferation index. TNFRSF11A_Δ7,8,9 encodes a 40-45 kDa protein, we named RANK-c, which lacks the transmembrane domain and most of the intracellular part of the wild type receptor. Furthermore, we showed that RANK-c could act as a dominant negative regulator of RANK-dependent NF-kB activation, affecting cell survival after apoptosis induction. In addition, RANK-c suppresses cell migration and represses the tumorigenic properties of invasive breast carcinoma cells.
CONCLUSIONS: In this study, we provide evidence of a complex regulatory network of RANK receptor splice variants with a role in breast cancer. We identify that the RANK-c isoform is expressed in breast cancer samples and its expression reversely correlates with histological grade. Finally, isoform RANK-c seems to have the capacity to regulate signaling through wild type RANK and moreover to inhibit cell motility and migration of breast cancer cells.

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