Metastasis is the major cause of mortality in patients with breast cancer. Many signaling pathways have been linked to cancer invasiveness, but blockade of few protein components has succeeded in reducing metastasis. Thus, identification of proteins contributing to invasion that are manipulable by small molecules may be valuable in inhibiting spread of the disease. The protein kinase with no lysine (K) 1 (WNK1) has been suggested to induce migration of cells representing a range of cancer types. Analyses of mouse models and patient data have implicated WNK1 as one of a handful of genes uniquely linked to invasive breast cancer. Here, we present evidence that inhibition of WNK1 slows breast cancer metastasis. We show that depletion or inhibition of WNK1 reduces migration of several breast cancer cell lines in wound healing assays and decreases invasion in collagen matrices. Furthermore, WNK1 depletion suppresses expression of AXL, a tyrosine kinase implicated in metastasis. Finally, we demonstrate that WNK inhibition in mice attenuates tumor progression and metastatic burden. These data showing reduced migration, invasion, and metastasis upon WNK1 depletion in multiple breast cancer models suggest that WNK1 contributes to the metastatic phenotype, and that WNK1 inhibition may offer a therapeutic avenue for attenuating progression of invasive breast cancers.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research