IL-6 contributes to metastatic switch via the differentiation of monocytic-dendritic progenitors into prometastatic immune cells

Ksenia Magidey-Klein, Tim J. Cooper, Ksenya Kveler, Rachelly Normand, Tongwu Zhang, Michael Timaner, Ziv Raviv, Brian P. James, Roi Gazit, Ze'ev A. Ronai, Shai Shen-Orr, Yuval Shaked

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Metastasis is the major cause of death in patients with cancer. Myeloid skewing of hematopoietic cells is a prominent promoter of metastasis. However, the reservoir of these cells in the bone marrow (BM) compartment and their differentiation pattern from hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells (HSPCs) have not been explored. We used a unique model system consisting of tumor cell clones with low metastatic potential or high metastatic potential (met-low and met-high, respectively) to investigate the fate of HSPC differentiation using murine melanoma and breast carcinoma. Single-cell RNA sequencing (scRNA-seq) analysis was performed on HSPC obtained from the BM of met-low and met-high tumors. A proteomic screen of tumor-conditioned medium integrated with the scRNA-seq data analysis was performed to analyze the potential cross talk between cancer cells and HSPCs. Adoptive transfer of tumor-educated HSPC subsets obtained from green fluorescent protein (GFP)+ tagged mice was then carried out to identify the contribution of committed HSPCs to tumor spread. Peripheral mononuclear cells obtained from patients with breast and lung cancer were analyzed for HSPC subsets. Mice bearing met-high tumors exhibited a significant increase in the percentage of HSPCs in the BM in comparison with tumor-free mice or mice bearing met-low tumors. ScRNA-seq analysis of these HSPCs revealed that met-high tumors enriched the monocyte-dendritic progenitors (MDPs) but not granulocyte-monocyte progenitors (GMPs). A proteomic screen of tumor- conditioned medium integrated with the scRNA-seq data analysis revealed that the interleukin 6 (IL-6)–IL-6 receptor axis is highly active in HSPC-derived MDP cells. Consequently, loss of function and gain of function of IL-6 in tumor cells resulted in decreased and increased metastasis and corresponding MDP levels, respectively. Importantly, IL-6-educated MDPs induce metastasis within mice bearing met-low tumors—through further differentiation into immunosuppressive macrophages and not dendritic cells. Consistently, MDP but not GMP levels in peripheral blood of breast and lung cancer patients are correlated with tumor aggressiveness. Our study reveals a new role for tumor-derived IL-6 in hijacking the HSPC differentiation program toward prometastatic MDPs that functionally differentiate into immunosuppressive monocytes to support the metastatic switch.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere002856
JournalJournal for ImmunoTherapy of Cancer
Issue number6
StatePublished - 17 Jun 2021


  • cellular
  • immunity
  • immunomodulation
  • macrophages
  • melanoma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Oncology
  • Pharmacology
  • Cancer Research


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