MK2: an unrecognized regulator of tumor promoting macrophages in colorectal cancer? Academic Article uri icon


  • Colorectal cancer (CRC) is one of the most common malignancies and is associated closely with inflammation before and after development. Macrophages promote colitis and colitis-associated CRC. M1 macrophages contribute to colitis directly through the production of proinflammatory cytokines and through activation of proinflammatory immune cell phenotypes. In cancer, both M1 and M2 macrophages participate in tumor development and progression through cytokine production, changes in cell signaling and activation of T cells. We have identified the mitogen-activated protein kinase-activated protein kinase 2 (MK2) as a regulator of macrophages during colitis-associated CRC (CAC). MK2 is a proinflammatory kinase that promotes production of IL-1α, IL-1β, IL-6 and TNF-α. MK2-/- mice have decreases in macrophages, macrophage-associated chemokines, and proinflammatory cytokines. Most significantly, MK2-/- mice do not develop neoplasms in an inflammatory model of CRC. However, addition of MK2+/+ macrophages to MK2-/- mice increases production of proinflammatory cytokines. In wild type mice, both cytokines and tumor burdens increase upon addition of additional macrophages. These data support the importance of MK2 in macrophage regulation during inflammation-associated CRC.