Metformin has been documented in epidemiological studies to mitigate tumor progression. Previous reports show that metformin inhibits tumor migration in several cell lines, such as MCF-7 and H1299, but the mechanisms whereby metformin exerts its inhibitory effects on tumor metastasis remain largely unknown. The secreted proteins in cancer cell-derived secretome have been reported to play important roles in tumor metastasis, but whether metformin has an effect on tumor secretome remains unclear. Here we show that metformin inhibits tumor metastasis by suppressing Hsp90α (heat shock protein 90α) secretion. Mass spectrometry (MS) analysis and functional validation identify that eHsp90α (extracellular Hsp90α) is one of the most important secreted proteins for metformin to inhibit tumor cells migration, invasion and metastasis both in vitro and in vivo. Moreover, we find that metformin inhibits Hsp90α secretion in an AMPKα1 dependent manner. Our data elucidate that AMPKα1 (AMP-activated protein kinase α1) decreases the phosphorylation level of Hsp90α by inhibiting the kinase activity of PKCγ (protein kinase Cγ), which suppresses the membrane translocation and secretion of Hsp90α. Collectively, our results illuminate that metformin inhibits tumor metastasis by suppressing Hsp90α secretion in an AMPKα1 dependent manner.
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