We define a novel mechanism by which integrins regulate growth factor expression and the survival of carcinoma cells. Specifically, we demonstrate that the α6β4 integrin enhances vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) translation in breast carcinoma cells. The mechanism involves the ability of this integrin to stimulate the phosphorylation and inactivation of 4E-binding protein (4E-BP1), a translational repressor that inhibits the function of eukaryotic translation initiation factor 4E (eIF-4E). The regulation of 4E-BP1 phosphorylation by α6β4 derives from the ability of this integrin to activate the PI-3K–Akt pathway and, consequently, the rapamycin-sensitive kinase mTOR that can phosphorylate 4E-BP1. Importantly, we show that this α6β4-dependent regulation of VEGF translation plays an important role in the survival of metastatic breast carcinoma cells by sustaining a VEGF autocrine signaling pathway that involves activation of PI-3K and Akt. These findings reveal that integrin-mediated activation of PI-3K–Akt is amplified by integrin-stimulated VEGF expression and they provide a mechanism that substantiates the reported role of α6β4 in carcinoma progression.

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