Trefoil factor 1 (TFF1) is a tumor suppressor gene that encodes a peptide belonging to the trefoil factor family of protease-resistant peptides. Although TFF1 expression is frequently lost in gastric carcinomas, the tumorigenic pathways this affects have not been determined. Here we show that Tff1-knockout mice exhibit age-dependent carcinogenic histological changes in the pyloric antrum of the gastric mucosa, progressing from gastritis to hyperplasia, low-grade dysplasia, high-grade dysplasia, and ultimately malignant adenocarcinoma. The histology and molecular signatures of gastric lesions in the Tff1-knockout mice were consistent with an inflammatory phenotype. In vivo, ex-vivo, and in vitro studies showed that TFF1 expression suppressed TNF-α-mediated NF-κB activation through the TNF receptor 1 (TNFR1)/IκB kinase (IKK) pathway. Consistent with these mouse data, human gastric tissue samples displayed a progressive decrease in TFF1 expression and an increase in NF-κB activation along the multi-step carcinogenesis cascade. Collectively, these results provide evidence that loss of TFF1 leads to activation of IKK complex-regulated NF-κB transcription factors and is an important event in shaping the NF-κB-mediated inflammatory response during the progression to gastric tumorigenesis.
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