NF-κB activation induced by genotoxic treatment in cancer cells has been associated with therapeutic resistance in multiple human malignancies. Therapeutic resistance also correlates with high metastatic potential in human cancers, including breast cancer. Whether genotoxic treatment-activated NF-κB also contributes to cancer metastasis following radiation and chemotherapy is unclear. Here, we show that chemotherapeutic drug-induced NF-κB activation promotes breast cancer cell migration and invasion. The increased metastatic potential is dependent on IL-6 induction mediated by genotoxic NF-κB activation. Moreover, genotoxic treatment also up-regulates oncogenic microRNA-21 (miR-21) expression through eliciting NF-κB recruitment to the miR-21 promoter region, where it cooperates with signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (STAT3) to activate miR-21 transcription. DNA damage-induced histone H3 phosphorylation via activated MSK1 creates an open chromatin structure for NF-κB/STAT3-driven transactivation of miR-21. NF-κB-dependent IL-6 up-regulation is responsible for STAT3 activation and recruitment to the miR-21 promoter upon genotoxic stress. Induction of miR-21 may enable cancer cells to elude DNA damage-induced apoptosis and enhance the metastatic potential of breast cancer cells through repressing expression of PTEN and PDCD4. Our data support a critical role of DNA damage-induced NF-κB activation in promoting cancer metastasis following genotoxic treatment, and NF-κB-dependent miR-21 induction may contribute to both therapeutic resistance and metastasis in breast cancer.
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