Extracellular-Regulated Protein Kinase 5-Mediated Control of p21 Expression Promotes Macrophage Proliferation Associated with Tumor Growth and Metastasis

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The presence of immunosuppressive macrophages that become activated in the tumor microenvironment constitutes a major factor responsible for tumor growth and malignancy. In line with this knowledge, we report here that macrophage proliferation is a significant feature of advanced stages of cancer. Moreover, we have found that a high proportion of proliferating macrophages in human tumors express ERK5. ERK5 was required for supporting the proliferation of macrophages in tumor grafts in mice. Furthermore, myeloid ERK5 deficiency negatively impacted the proliferation of both resident and infiltrated macrophages in metastatic lung nodules. ERK5 maintained the capacity of macrophages to proliferate by suppressing p21 expression to halt their differentiation program. Collectively, these data provide insight into the mechanism underpinning macrophage proliferation to support malignant tumor development, thereby strengthening the value of ERK5-targeted therapies to restore antitumor immunity through the blockade of protumorigenic macrophage activation. SIGNIFICANCE: These findings offer a new rationale for anti-ERK5 therapy to improve cancer patient outcomes by blocking the proliferative activity of tumor macrophages.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3319
Number of pages3330
JournalCancer Research
Issue number16
Publication statusPublished - 15 Aug 2020

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