Here, we report that kinase-dead IKKα knockin mice develop spontaneous lung squamous cell carcinomas (SCCs) associated with IKKα downregulation and marked pulmonary inflammation. IKKα reduction upregulated the expression of p63, Trim29, and keratin 5 (K5), which serve as diagnostic markers for human lung SCCs. IKKα(low)K5(+)p63(hi) cell expansion and SCC formation were accompanied by inflammation-associated deregulation of oncogenes, tumor suppressors, and stem cell regulators. Reintroducing transgenic K5.IKKα, depleting macrophages, and reconstituting irradiated mutant animals with wild-type bone marrow (BM) prevented SCC development, suggesting that BM-derived IKKα mutant macrophages promote the transition of IKKα(low)K5(+)p63(hi) cells to tumor cells. This mouse model resembles human lung SCCs, sheds light on the mechanisms underlying lung malignancy development, and identifies targets for therapy of lung SCCs.
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