Bcl-3 promotes multi-modal tumour cell migration via NF-κB1 mediated regulation of Cdc42

Daniel Turnham, William Yang, Julia Davies, Athina Varnava, Anne J Ridley, R Steven Conlan, Richard Clarkson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

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A key challenge in the implementation of anti-metastatics as cancer therapies is the multi-modal nature of cell migration, which allows tumour cells to evade the targeted inhibition of specific cell motility pathways. The nuclear factor-kappaB (NF-κB) co-factor B-cell lymphoma 3 (Bcl-3) has been implicated in breast cancer cell migration and metastasis, yet it remains to be determined exactly which cell motility pathways are controlled by Bcl-3 and whether migrating tumour cells are able to evade Bcl-3 intervention. Addressing these questions and the mechanism underpinning Bcl-3’s role in this process would help determine its potential as a therapeutic target. Here we identify Bcl-3 as an upstream regulator of the two principal forms of breast cancer cell motility, involving collective and single-cell migration. This was found to be mediated by the master regulator Cdc42 through binding of the NF-κB transcription factor p50 to the Cdc42 promoter. Notably, Bcl-3 depletion inhibited both stable and transitory motility phenotypes in breast cancer cells with no evidence of migratory adaptation. Overexpression of Bcl-3 enhanced migration and increased metastatic tumour burden of breast cancer cells in vivo, whereas overexpression of a mutant Bcl-3 protein, which is unable to bind p50, suppressed cell migration and metastatic tumour burden suggesting that disruption of Bcl-3/NF-κB complexes is sufficient to inhibit metastasis. These findings identify a novel role for Bcl-3 in intrinsic and adaptive multi-modal cell migration mediated by its direct regulation of the Rho GTPase Cdc42 and identify the upstream Bcl-3:p50 transcription complex as a potential therapeutic target for metastatic disease.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberbgaa005
Number of pages12
Early online date20 Jan 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 20 Jan 2020


  • cdc42 gtp-binding protein
  • cell motility
  • neoplasm metastasis
  • bcl3 protein


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