MAPK11 in breast cancer cells enhances osteoclastogenesis and bone resorption

Zhimin He, Jin He, Zhiqiang Liu, Jingda Xu, Sofia F. Yi, Huan Liu, Jing Yang

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    24 Scopus citations


    Breast cancer cells frequently metastasize to bone and induce osteolytic bone destruction in patients. These metastases cause severe bone pain, high risk of fractures and hypercalcemia, and are essentially incurable and fatal. Recent studies show that breast cancer cells in bone activate osteoclastogenesis and bone resorption. However the underlying mechanism is poorly understood. This study shows that the p38 MAPK (p38) isoform MAPK11 (p38β) is expressed in breast cancer cells. By using specific small hairpin RNAs for MAPK11, we demonstrated that p38β-mediated p38 activity in breast cancer cells is responsible for breast cancer-induced osteolytic bone destruction. The addition of conditioned media from breast cancer cell lines MDA-MB-231 and MDA-MB-468, which have high expression of p38β, induced osteoclast differentiation and bone resorption. In contrast, knockdown of p38β in breast cancer cells reduced osteoclast differentiation in vitro and reduced bone destruction in severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID) mouse models. The knockdown of p38β did not affect tumor growth or survival or the ability of cancer cells to home to bone. Furthermore, our results showed that p38β upregulated the expression and secretion of monocyte chemotactic protein-1 (MCP-1) in breast cancer cells, and upregulated MCP-1 activates osteoclast differentiation and activity. This study elucidates a novel molecular mechanism of breast cancer cell-induced osteolytic bone destruction. This study also indicates that targeting breast cancer cell p38β and its product MCP-1 may be a viable approach to treat or prevent bone destruction in patients with bone-metastatic breast cancer.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)24-32
    Number of pages9
    StatePublished - Nov 2014


    • Bone resorption
    • Breast cancer
    • MAPK11
    • MCP-1
    • Osteoclasts

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Biochemistry


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