Abstract: Series 102, Lecture 7

The Harvey Lectures Series 102 (2006—2007)

previous lecture

Lecture #7: Thursday, May 17, 2007 — Time and Location

Tracking the Road from Inflammation to Cancer: The Critical Role of IKK

Michael Karin, PhD

Michael Karin, PhD

Professor of Pharmacology

University of California, San Diego

San Diego, California

Dr Karin's Website

A link between inflammation and cancer has long been suspected but the exact molecular mechanisms connecting the two were not known. After proposing that NF-κB transcription factors play a critical role in connecting inflammation to cancer and elucidating the role of the IκB kinase (IKK) complex in NF-κB activation we have set out to examine this hypothesis. Using mice bearing mutations in the genes coding for the IKKβ and IKKα catalytic subunits we found evidence for a critical role for IKKβ in tumor promotion and more recently identified a role for IKKα in stimulation of metastasis. Whereas the major tumorogenic function of IKKβ is mediated via NF-κB, the metastatic function of IKKα is NF-κβ independent. In addition to illustrating the critical role of the IKK catalytic subunits in linking inflammation and cancer, these results also identify new targets for development of novel types of anti-cancer therapies. Instead of targeting the cancer cell itself, such therapeutics should target processes that occur within inflammatory cells that are essential for cancer development and progression.