Background: In vivo investigations with cancer cells have powerful tools to discover cancer progression mechanisms and preclinical candidate drugs. Among these in vivo experimental models, the establishment of highly malignancy cell lines with xenograft has been frequently used. However, few previous researches targeted malignancy-related genes whose protein levels translationally changed. Therefore, this study aimed to identify malignancy-related genes which contributed to cancer progression and changed at the protein level in the in vivo selected cancer cell lines. Methods: We established the high malignancy breast cancer cell line (LM05) by orthotopic xenograft as an in vivo selection method. To explore the altered genes by translational or post-translational regulation, we analyzed the protein production by western blotting in the highly malignant breast cancer cell line. Functional analyses of the altered genes were performed by in vitro and in vivo experiments. To reveal the molecular mechanisms of the regulation with protein level, we evaluated post-translational modification by immunoprecipitation. In addition, we evaluated translational production by click reaction-based purification of nascent protein. Results: As a result, NF-κB inducing kinase (NIK) increased at the protein level and promoted the nuclear localization of NF-κB2 (p52) and RelB in the highly malignant breast cancer cell line. The functional analyses indicated the NIK upregulation contributed to tumor malignancy via cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs) attraction and partially anti-apoptotic activities. Additionally, the immunoprecipitation experiment revealed that the ubiquitination of NIK decreased in LM05 cells. The decline in NIK ubiquitination was attributed to the translational downregulation of cIAP1. Conclusions: Our study identified a dysregulated mechanism of NIK production by the suppression of NIK post-modification and cIAP1 translation. The aberrant NIK accumulation promoted tumor growth in the highly malignant breast cancer cell line.
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