Macrophage migration inhibitory factor secretion is induced by ionizing radiation and oxidative stress in cancer cells

Yashi Gupta, Vinay Pasupuleti, Weinan Du, Scott M. Welford

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


The macrophage migration inhibitory factor (MIF) has been increasingly implicated in cancer development and progression by promoting inflammation, angiogenesis, tumor cell survival and immune suppression. MIF is overexpressed in a variety of solid tumor types in part due to its responsiveness to hypoxia inducible factor (HIF) driven transcriptional activation. MIF secretion, however, is a poorly understood process owing to the fact that MIF is a leaderless polypeptide that follows a non-classical secretory pathway. Better understanding of MIF processing and release could have therapeutic implications. Here, we have discovered that ionizing radiation (IR) and other DNA damaging stresses can induce robust MIF secretion in several cancer cell lines. MIF secretion by IR appears independent of ABCA1, a cholesterol efflux pump that has been implicated previously in MIF secretion. However, MIF secretion is robustly induced by oxidative stress. Importantly, MIF secretion can be observed both in cell culture models as well as in tumors in mice in vivo. Rapid depletion of MIF from tumor cells observed immunohistochemically is coincident with elevated circulating MIF detected in the blood sera of irradiated mice. Given the robust tumor promoting activities of MIF, our results suggest that an innate host response to genotoxic stress may mitigate the beneficial effects of cancer therapy, and that MIF inhibition may improve therapeutic responses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0146482
JournalPloS one
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 7 2016
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General


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