Breast cancer mainly spreads to bone, causing decreased survival of patient. Human antigen R (HuR) and chemokines are important molecules associated with mRNA stability and cell-cell interaction in cancer biology. Here, HuR knockdown inhibited bone metastasis and osteolysis of metastatic breast cancer cells in mice and HuR expression promoted the metastatic ability of cancer cells via CCL20 and GM-CSF. In contrast with the findings for GM-CSF, ELAVL1 and CCL20 expressions were markedly increased in breast tumor tissues and ELAVL1 expression showed a strong positive correlation with CCL20 expression in breast cancer subtypes, particularly the basal-like subtype. Metastasis-free survival and overall survival were decreased in the breast cancer patients with high CCL20 expression. We further confirmed the role of CCL20 in breast cancer bone metastasis. Intraperitoneal administration of anti-CCL20 antibodies inhibited osteolytic breast cancer bone metastasis in mice. Treatment with CCL20 noticeably promoted cell invasion and the secretion of MMP-2/9 in the basal-like triple-negative breast cancer cell lines, not the luminal. Moreover, CCL20 elevated the receptor activator of nuclear factors kappa-B ligand/osteoprotegerin ratio in breast cancer and osteoblastic cells and mediated the crosstalk between these cells. Collectively, HuR-regulated CCL20 may be an attractive therapeutic target for breast cancer bone metastasis.
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