Notch signaling is frequently hyperactivated in breast cancer, but how the enhanced signaling contributes to the tumor process is less well understood. In this report, we identify the proinflammatory cytokine interleukin-6 (IL-6) as a novel Notch target in breast tumor cells. Enhanced Notch signaling upregulated IL-6 expression, leading to activation of autocrine and paracrine Janus kinase/signal transducers and activators of transcription signaling. IL-6 upregulation was mediated by non-canonical Notch signaling, as it could be effectuated by a cytoplasmically localized Notch intracellular domain and was independent of the DNA-binding protein CSL. Instead, Notch-mediated IL-6 upregulation was controlled by two proteins in the nuclear factor (NF)-¿B signaling cascade, IKKa and IKKß (inhibitor of nuclear factor kappa-B kinase subunit alpha and beta, respectively), as well as by p53. Activation of IL-6 by Notch required IKKa/IKKß function, but interestingly, did not engage canonical NF-¿B signaling, in contrast to IL-6 activation by inflammatory agents such as lipopolysaccharide. With regard to p53 status, IL-6 expression was upregulated by Notch when p53 was mutated or lost, and restoring wild-type p53 into p53-mutated or -deficient cells abrogated the IL-6 upregulation. Furthermore, Notch-induced transcriptomes from p53 wild-type and -mutated breast tumor cell lines differed extensively, and for a subset of genes upregulated by Notch in a p53-mutant cell line, this upregulation was reduced by wild-type p53. In conclusion, we identify IL-6 as a novel non-canonical Notch target gene, and reveal roles for p53 and IKKa/IKKß in non-canonical Notch signaling in breast cancer and in the generation of cell context-dependent diversity in the Notch signaling output. © 2013 Macmillan Publishers Limited All rights reserved.