Axl promotes cell invasion by inducing MMP-9 activity through activation of NF-κB and Brg-1

K. Y. Tai, Y. S. Shieh, C. S. Lee, S. G. Shiah*, Cheng-Wen Wu

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

120 Scopus citations


Activity of the Axl receptor tyrosine kinase is positively correlated with tumor metastasis; however, its detailed role in the mechanism of tumor invasion is still not completely understood. Here, we show that Axl enhances the expression of matrix metalloproteinase 9 (MMP-9), required for Axl-mediated invasion both in vitro and in vivo. We found that the highly selective MEK1/2 inhibitors U0126 and PD98059, and the expressed dominant-negative form of extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK), completely block Axl-mediated MMP-9 activation. In contrast, the phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase inhibitor LY294002 and wortmannin had little effect on activation. Interestingly, however, the Axl ligand Gas6 is not involved in Axl-mediated MMP-9 activation. Mutation of Glu59Axl and Thr77Axl dramatically reduced Gas6-Axl binding but continued to induce MMP-9 activation. In addition, overexpression of Axl-activated ERK and enhanced nuclear factor-κB (NF-κB) transactivation and brahma-related gene-1 (Brg-1) translocation. Exposure to the NF-κB inhibitor silibinin, which inhibits IκBα kinase activity, or overexpression of the dominant-negative mutant IκB and Brg-1 strikingly inhibited Axl-mediated MMP-9 activation. These data indicate that coordination of ERK signaling and NF-κB and Brg-1 activation are indispensable to regulation of Axl-dependent MMP-9 gene transcription. Together with previous data, our results provide a plausible mechanism for Axl-mediated tumor invasion and establish a functional link between the Axl and MMP-9 signaling pathways.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4044-4055
Number of pages12
Issue number29
StatePublished - 3 Jul 2008


  • Axl
  • Brg-1
  • ERK
  • MMP-9
  • NF-κB


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