ADAM17 Activity and IL-6 Trans-Signaling in Inflammation and Cancer
All ligands of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGF-R) are transmembrane proteins, which need to be proteolytically cleaved in order to be systemically active. The major protease responsible for this cleavage is the membrane metalloprotease ADAM17, which also has been implicated in cleavage of TNFα and interleukin-6 (IL-6) receptor. It has been recently shown that in the absence of ADAM17, the main protease for EGF-R ligand processing, colon cancer formation is largely abrogated. Intriguingly, colon cancer formation depends on EGF-R activity on myeloid cells rather than on intestinal epithelial cells. A major activity of EGF-R on myeloid cells is the stimulation of IL-6 synthesis. Subsequently, IL-6 together with the ADAM17 shed soluble IL-6 receptor acts on intestinal epithelial cells via IL-6 trans-signaling to induce colon cancer formation, which can be blocked by the inhibitor of IL-6 trans-signaling, sgp130Fc. Blockade of IL-6 trans-signaling therefore offers a new therapeutic window downstream of the EGF-R for the treatment of colon cancer and possibly of other EGF-R related neoplastic diseases.