Gene Summary

Gene:MAP2K6; mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase 6
Summary:This gene encodes a member of the dual specificity protein kinase family, which functions as a mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinase kinase. MAP kinases, also known as extracellular signal-regulated kinases (ERKs), act as an integration point for multiple biochemical signals. This protein phosphorylates and activates p38 MAP kinase in response to inflammatory cytokines or environmental stress. As an essential component of p38 MAP kinase mediated signal transduction pathway, this gene is involved in many cellular processes such as stress induced cell cycle arrest, transcription activation and apoptosis. [provided by RefSeq, Jul 2008]
Databases:OMIM, HGNC, Ensembl, GeneCard, Gene
Protein:dual specificity mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase 6
Source:NCBIAccessed: 30 August, 2019


What does this gene/protein do?
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Pathways:What pathways are this gene/protein implicaed in?
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Cancer Overview

Research Indicators

Publications Per Year (1994-2019)
Graph generated 31 August 2019 using data from PubMed using criteria.

Literature Analysis

Mouse over the terms for more detail; many indicate links which you can click for dedicated pages about the topic.

Tag cloud generated 30 August, 2019 using data from PubMed, MeSH and CancerIndex

Specific Cancers (4)

Data table showing topics related to specific cancers and associated disorders. Scope includes mutations and abnormal protein expression.

Note: list is not exhaustive. Number of papers are based on searches of PubMed (click on topic title for arbitrary criteria used).

Latest Publications: MAP2K6 (cancer-related)

Li P, Li Q, Zhang Y, et al.
MiR-422a targets MAPKK6 and regulates cell growth and apoptosis in colorectal cancer cells.
Biomed Pharmacother. 2018; 104:832-840 [PubMed] Related Publications
The important role of miR-422a in tumor has been reported in several studies. Recent research discovered that the expression of miR-422a was significantly decreased in colorectal cancer tissues, providing miR-422a as a tumor suppressor in CRC. However, the concrete mechanism of miR-422a regulating CRC cell is still unclear. In this study, we demonstrated that miR-422a could inhibit CRC cell growth and promote cell apoptosis via in vitro analyses. Moreover, computational methods were adopted to identify the targets of miR-422a. We found MAPKK6 was the direct target of miR-422a. Consequently, we further elucidated that miR-422a inhibited CRC cell growth and induced cell apoptosis by inhibiting p38/MAPK pathway. Besides that, we established the tumor xenograft model using nude mice and the inhibitory effects on tumor volumes and weights by miR-422a mimic transfection were also detected. Taken together, these findings demonstrated miR-422a exerted anti-cancer activities on CRC, which could be potentially used for CRC prognosis prediction and treatment.

Bouraoui Y, Achour M, Royuela M, Oueslati R
Immune profiling of human prostate epithelial cells determined by expression of p38/TRAF-6/ERK MAP kinases pathways.
Kaohsiung J Med Sci. 2018; 34(3):125-133 [PubMed] Related Publications
The aim of the present work was to study the immune profiling of prostate epithelial cells by the expression of ASK-1/p38 and Raf-1/ERK MAP Kinases signaling pathways mediated by TRAF-6. Immunohistochemical and Western blot analyses for TRAF-6, ASK-1, MEK-6, p38, Raf-1, MEK-1, ERK-1, ERK-2 and PSA were carried out in 5 samples of normal prostate gland, 24 samples of BPH and 19 samples of PC. Immunoreaction to TRAF-6 was found in the cytoplasm of epithelial cells of BPH and tumor cells of PC samples. For patients with the profile (TRAF-6+), optical densities revealed a weak immunoexpression of ASK-1 in PC compared to BPH patients. Whereas, immunoexpression to Raf-1 was higher in PC than in BPH. According to the expression of ASK-1 and Raf-1, two main profiles were identified: (TRAF-6+, ASK-1+, Raf-1+) and (TRAF-6+, ASK-1+, RAF-1-) in both BPH and PC. In addition, ASK-1/p38 axis expression was increased in BPH. Raf-1/ERK signaling pathway was increased in PC samples. On the other hand, representing of individual signaling protein expression enclosing each of p38 and ERK MAP Kinases according to TRAF-6+ showed a qualitative behavior of ASK61/p38 and Raf-1/ERK signaling pathways and a dynamic expression of PSA associated with immune and inflammatory process. These findings suggest that prostate epithelial cell could able an immune and inflammatory setting.

Schulz J, Mah N, Neuenschwander M, et al.
Loss-of-function uORF mutations in human malignancies.
Sci Rep. 2018; 8(1):2395 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Ribosome profiling revealed widespread translational activity at upstream open reading frames (uORFs) and validated uORF-mediated translational control as a commonly repressive mechanism of gene expression. Translational activation of proto-oncogenes through loss-of-uORF mutations has been demonstrated, yet a systematic search for cancer-associated genetic alterations in uORFs is lacking. Here, we applied a PCR-based, multiplex identifier-tagged deep sequencing approach to screen 404 uORF translation initiation sites of 83 human tyrosine kinases and 49 other proto-oncogenes in 308 human malignancies. We identified loss-of-function uORF mutations in EPHB1 in two samples derived from breast and colon cancer, and in MAP2K6 in a sample of colon adenocarcinoma. Both mutations were associated with enhanced translation, suggesting that loss-of-uORF-mediated translational induction of the downstream main protein coding sequence may have contributed to carcinogenesis. Computational analysis of whole exome sequencing datasets of 464 colon adenocarcinomas subsequently revealed another 53 non-recurrent somatic mutations functionally deleting 22 uORF initiation and 31 uORF termination codons, respectively. These data provide evidence for somatic mutations affecting uORF initiation and termination codons in human cancer. The insufficient coverage of uORF regions in current whole exome sequencing datasets demands for future genome-wide analyses to ultimately define the contribution of uORF-mediated translational deregulation in oncogenesis.

Witte D, Otterbein H, Förster M, et al.
Negative regulation of TGF-β1-induced MKK6-p38 and MEK-ERK signalling and epithelial-mesenchymal transition by Rac1b.
Sci Rep. 2017; 7(1):17313 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Prompted by earlier findings that the Rac1-related isoform Rac1b inhibits transforming growth factor (TGF)-β1-induced canonical Smad signalling, we studied here whether Rac1b also impacts TGF-β1-dependent non-Smad signalling such as the MKK6-p38 and MEK-ERK mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathways and epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT). Transient depletion of Rac1b protein in pancreatic cancer cells by RNA interference increased the extent and duration of TGF-β1-induced phosphorylation of p38 MAPK in a Smad4-independent manner. Rac1b depletion also strongly increased basal ERK activation - independent of the kinase function of the TGF-β type I receptor ALK5 - and sensitised cells towards further upregulation of phospho-ERK levels by TGF-β1, while ectopic overexpression of Rac1b had the reverse effect. Rac1b depletion increased an EMT phenotype as evidenced by cell morphology, gene expression of EMT markers, cell migration and growth inhibition. Inhibition of MKK6-p38 or MEK-ERK signalling partially relieved the Rac1b depletion-dependent increase in TGF-β1-induced gene expression and cell migration. Rac1b depletion also enhanced TGF-β1 autoinduction of crucial TGF-β pathway components and decreased that of TGF-β pathway inhibitors. Our results show that Rac1b antagonises TGF-β1-dependent EMT by inhibiting MKK6-p38 and MEK-ERK signalling and by controlling gene expression in a way that favors attenuation of TGF-β signalling.

Witte D, Bartscht T, Kaufmann R, et al.
TGF-β1-induced cell migration in pancreatic carcinoma cells is RAC1 and NOX4-dependent and requires RAC1 and NOX4-dependent activation of p38 MAPK.
Oncol Rep. 2017; 38(6):3693-3701 [PubMed] Related Publications
Transforming growth factor (TGF)-β promotes epithelial-mesenchymal transition and cell invasion of cancer cells in part through the small GTPase RAC1. Since RAC1 can signal through reactive oxygen species (ROS), we probed the role of the ROS-producing NADPH oxidase (NOX) and p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) in mediating TGF-β1/RAC1-driven random cell migration (chemokinesis). Although the NOX isoforms NOX2, 4, 5, 6, and RAC1 were readily detectable by RT-PCR in pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC)-derived Panc1 and Colo357 cells, only NOX4 and RAC1 were expressed at higher levels comparable to those in peripheral blood monocytes. TGF-β1 treatment resulted in upregulation of NOX4 (and NOX2) and rapid intracellular production of ROS. To analyze whether RAC1 functions through NOX and ROS to promote cell motility, we performed real-time cell migration assays with xCELLigence® technology in the presence of the ROS scavenger N-acetyl-L-cysteine (NAC) and various NOX inhibitors. NAC, the NOX4 inhibitor diphenylene iodonium or small interfering RNA (siRNA) to NOX4, and the NOX2 inhibitor apocynin all suppressed TGF-β1-induced chemokinesis of Panc1 and Colo357 cells as did various inhibitors of RAC1 used as control. In addition, we showed that blocking NOX4 or RAC1 function abrogated phosphorylation of p38 MAPK signaling by TGF-β1 and that inhibition of p38 MAPK reduced TGF-β1-induced random cell migration, while ectopic expression of a kinase-active version of the p38 activating kinase MKK6 was able to partially rescue the decline in migration after RAC1 inhibition. Our data suggest that TGF-β1-induced chemokinesis in PDAC cells is mediated through a RAC1/NOX4/ROS/p38 MAPK cascade.

Shih YL, Au MK, Liu KL, et al.
Ouabain impairs cell migration, and invasion and alters gene expression of human osteosarcoma U-2 OS cells.
Environ Toxicol. 2017; 32(11):2400-2413 [PubMed] Related Publications
Ouabain, the specific Na

Guo Y, Yuan J, Yin S, et al.
MAP2K6-FP Enhances the Sensitiveness of Paclitaxel for Ovarian Cancer via Inducing Autophagy.
Int J Gynecol Cancer. 2017; 27(6):1082-1087 [PubMed] Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Paclitaxel is recommended as a first-line chemotherapeutic agent against ovarian cancer, but drug resistance becomes a major limitation. The key molecule or mechanism associated with paclitaxel resistance in ovarian cancer still remains unclear. Recent studies have revealed an association between autophagy and drug resistance.
METHODS: We previously synthesized a MAPK kinase-recombinant fusion protein, MAP2K6-FP, that contains 3 domains: a protein transduction domain TAT, a human ovarian cancer HO8910 cell-specific binding peptide, and a potential antitumor effector domain MKK6(E). In this study, we investigated the effect of MAP2K6-FP on HO8910 cells treated with paclitaxel.
RESULTS: The IC50 (concentration by which 50% cell growth was inhibited) was 20 μM for paclitaxel alone, 1.5 μg/mL for MAP2K6-FP alone, and 0.3 μg/mL for MAP2K6-FP and 15 μM for paclitaxel if combined, respectively. In addition, immunohistochemistry assay demonstrated that tumor tissues from ovarian cancer patients showed higher expression of LC-3, the autophagy-related protein, compared with normal ovarian tissues. MAP2K6-FP (0, 2.5, 5, 10, 20, and 40 μg/mL) dose-dependently increased the LC-3 expression in HO8910 cells. Immunofluorescence assay showed that paclitaxel alone increased the expression of LC-3 in HO8910 cells, which was further enhanced by the combination with MAP2K6-FP. Downregulation of LC-3 expression using LC-3 small interfering RNA inhibited the cytotoxicity effect of MAP2K6-FP. Furthermore, either MAP2K6-FP alone or in combination with paclitaxel increased the ratio of expressions of Beclin-1/Bcl-2, another autophagy-related markers, compared with paclitaxel alone.
CONCLUSIONS: MAP2K6-FP enhanced the sensitiveness of paclitaxel for ovarian cancer via inducing autophagy.

Lopes LJS, Tesser-Gamba F, Petrilli AS, et al.
MAPK pathways regulation by DUSP1 in the development of osteosarcoma: Potential markers and therapeutic targets.
Mol Carcinog. 2017; 56(6):1630-1641 [PubMed] Related Publications
Osteosarcoma (OS) is the most frequent primary bone tumor that affect children and adolescents. This tumor is highly aggressive with high risk of metastasis and the implementation of new drugs has not been successful. The search for biomarkers or new therapeutic targets is urgently needed and can help in advances of OS treatment. MAPKs are major signaling transduction molecules that play an important role in regulating a variety of cellular responses. DUSP1 is a phosphatase that dephosphorylates the MAPKs. Both MAPKs and DUSPs have been implicated as major modulators of critical signaling pathways that are dysregulated in various diseases. In a previous study, we found an increase in MAPK7 gene expression contributed for worst overall survival and treatment response. We analyzed gene expression of MAPK pathways that participate in MAPK7 regulation, and DUSP1 gene using paired 28 pre/post-chemotherapy and 12 metastasis OS samples. To understand the DUSP1 role in the pathogenesis of OS, we assessed the function of DUSP1 in four OS cell lines through a series of cellular assays combined with gene silencing technique. Our findings showed increased MAP2K6, MAP4K3, and DUSP1 gene expression in post-chemotherapy OS samples presenting poor prognosis. We also found that the suppression of DUSP1 gene expression resulted in decreased proliferation, migration, and invasion in OS cells. These results suggest that members of MAPK family may be possible prognostic markers in OS and DUSP1 has a relevant role in the OS pathogenesis and can be an attractive therapeutic target in new strategies of OS treatment.

Rasmussen MH, Lyskjær I, Jersie-Christensen RR, et al.
miR-625-3p regulates oxaliplatin resistance by targeting MAP2K6-p38 signalling in human colorectal adenocarcinoma cells.
Nat Commun. 2016; 7:12436 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Oxaliplatin resistance in colorectal cancers (CRC) is a major medical problem, and predictive markers are urgently needed. Recently, miR-625-3p was reported as a promising predictive marker. Herein, we show that miR-625-3p functionally induces oxaliplatin resistance in CRC cells, and identify the signalling networks affected by miR-625-3p. We show that the p38 MAPK activator MAP2K6 is a direct target of miR-625-3p, and, accordingly, is downregulated in non-responder patients of oxaliplatin therapy. miR-625-3p-mediated resistance is reversed by anti-miR-625-3p treatment and ectopic expression of a miR-625-3p insensitive MAP2K6 variant. In addition, reduction of p38 signalling by using siRNAs, chemical inhibitors or expression of a dominant-negative MAP2K6 protein induces resistance to oxaliplatin. Transcriptome, proteome and phosphoproteome profiles confirm inactivation of MAP2K6-p38 signalling as one likely mechanism of oxaliplatin resistance. Our study shows that miR-625-3p induces oxaliplatin resistance by abrogating MAP2K6-p38-regulated apoptosis and cell cycle control networks, and corroborates the predictive power of miR-625-3p.

Yong KJ, Milenic DE, Baidoo KE, Brechbiel MW
Cell Killing Mechanisms and Impact on Gene Expression by Gemcitabine and 212Pb-Trastuzumab Treatment in a Disseminated i.p. Tumor Model.
PLoS One. 2016; 11(7):e0159904 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
In pre-clinical studies, combination therapy with gemcitabine and targeted radioimmunotherapy (RIT) using 212Pb-trastuzumab showed tremendous therapeutic potential in the LS-174T tumor xenograft model of disseminated intraperitoneal disease. To better understand the underlying molecular basis for the observed cell killing efficacy, gene expression profiling was performed after a 24 h exposure to 212Pb-trastuzumab upon gemcitabine (Gem) pre-treatment in this model. DNA damage response genes in tumors were quantified using a real time quantitative PCR array (qRT-PCR array) covering 84 genes. The combination of Gem with α-radiation resulted in the differential expression of apoptotic genes (BRCA1, CIDEA, GADD45α, GADD45γ, IP6K3, PCBP4, RAD21, and p73), cell cycle regulatory genes (BRCA1, CHK1, CHK2, FANCG, GADD45α, GTSE1, PCBP4, MAP2K6, NBN, PCBP4, and SESN1), and damaged DNA binding and repair genes (BRCA1, BTG2, DMC1, ERCC1, EXO1, FANCG, FEN1, MSH2, MSH3, NBN, NTHL1, OGG1, PRKDC, RAD18, RAD21, RAD51B, SEMA4G, p73, UNG, XPC, and XRCC2). Of these genes, the expression of CHK1, GTSE1, EXO1, FANCG, RAD18, UNG and XRCC2 were specific to Gem/212Pb-trastuzumab administration. In addition, the present study demonstrates that increased stressful growth arrest conditions induced by Gem/212Pb-trastuzumab could suppress cell proliferation possibly by up-regulating genes involved in apoptosis such as p73, by down-regulating genes involved in cell cycle check point such as CHK1, and in damaged DNA repair such as RAD51 paralogs. These events may be mediated by genes such as BRCA1/MSH2, a member of BARC (BRCA-associated genome surveillance complex). The data suggest that up-regulation of genes involved in apoptosis, perturbation of checkpoint genes, and a failure to correctly perform HR-mediated DSB repair and mismatch-mediated SSB repair may correlate with the previously observed inability to maintain the G2/M arrest, leading to cell death.

Huth HW, Albarnaz JD, Torres AA, et al.
MEK2 controls the activation of MKK3/MKK6-p38 axis involved in the MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cell survival: Correlation with cyclin D1 expression.
Cell Signal. 2016; 28(9):1283-91 [PubMed] Related Publications
The Ras-Raf-MEK-ERK1/2 signaling pathway regulates fundamental processes in malignant cells. However, the exact contributions of MEK1 and MEK2 to the development of cancer remain to be established. We studied the effects of MEK small-molecule inhibitors (PD98059 and U0126) and MEK1 and MEK2 knock-down on cell proliferation, apoptosis and MAPK activation. We showed a diminution of cell viability that was associated with a downregulation of cyclin D1 expression and an increase of apoptosis marker in MEK2 silenced cells; by contrast, a slight increase of cell survival was observed in the absence of MEK1 that correlated with an augment of cyclin D1 expression. These data indicate that MEK2 but not MEK1 is essential for MDA-MB-231 cell survival. Importantly, the role of MEK2 in cell survival appeared independent on ERK1/2 phosphorylation since its absence did not alter the level of activated ERK1/2. Indeed, we have reported an unrevealed link between MEK2 and MKK3/MKK6-p38 MAPK axis where MEK2 was essential for the phosphorylation of MKK3/MKK6 and p38 MAPK that directly impacted on cyclin D1 expression. Importantly, the MEK1 inhibitor PD98059, like MEK1 silencing, induced an augment of cyclin D1 expression that correlated with an increase of MDA-MB-231 cell proliferation suggesting that MEK1 may play a regulatory role in these cells. In sum, the crucial role of MEK2 in MDA-MB-231 cell viability and the unknown relationship between MEK2 and MKK3/MKK6-p38 axis here revealed may open new therapeutic strategies for aggressive breast cancer.

Tung CL, Jian YJ, Chen JC, et al.
Curcumin downregulates p38 MAPK-dependent X-ray repair cross-complement group 1 (XRCC1) expression to enhance cisplatin-induced cytotoxicity in human lung cancer cells.
Naunyn Schmiedebergs Arch Pharmacol. 2016; 389(6):657-66 [PubMed] Related Publications
Cisplatin is a well-studied and widely used chemotherapeutic agent and is effective in the treatment of the advanced human non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Curcumin is a yellow pigment derived from the rhizome of Curcuma longa and has been proved to have antioxidant and antitumor properties. XRCC1 is an important scaffold protein involved in base excision repair and plays an important role in the development of lung cancer. In this study, we characterize the role of curcumin in the cytotoxicity, p38 MAPK activation, and XRCC1 expression affected by cisplatin in NSCLC cells. We show that curcumin enhanced the cytotoxicity induced by cisplatin in two NSCLC cells, A549 and H1703. Treatment with cisplatin alone increased XRCC1 mRNA and protein expression through p38 MAPK activation. Moreover, SB2023580 (p38 inhibitor) decreased the XRCC1 mRNA and protein stability upon cisplatin treatment. Knockdown of XRCC1 in NSCLC cells by transfection of XRCC1 siRNA or inactivation of p38 MAPK resulted in enhancing the cytotoxicity and cell growth inhibition induced by cisplatin. Curcumin inhibited the expression of XRCC1 in cisplatin-exposed NSCLC cells. Furthermore, transfection with constitutive active MKK6 or HA-p38 MAPK vectors rescued the XRCC1 protein level and also the cell survival suppressed by cisplatin and curcumin combination in A549 and H1703 cells. These findings suggested that the downregulation of XRCC1 expression by curcumin can enhance the chemosensitivity of cisplatin in NSCLC cells.

Lu WJ, Chua MS, So SK
Suppression of ATAD2 inhibits hepatocellular carcinoma progression through activation of p53- and p38-mediated apoptotic signaling.
Oncotarget. 2015; 6(39):41722-35 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
The ATPase family, AAA domain containing 2 (ATAD2) is highly expressed in multiple cancers. We aim to understand the clinical and biological significance of ATAD2 over-expression in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), as a means to validate it as a therapeutic target in HCC. We demonstrated that ATAD2 was over-expressed in HCC patients, where high ATAD2 levels were significantly correlated with aggressive phenotypes such as high AFP levels, advanced tumor stages, and vascular invasion. Using RNA interference, suppression of ATAD2 in HCC cell lines decreased cell viability, migration, and invasion, and induced apoptosis in vitro. Furthermore, we identified p53 and p38 as key proteins that mediate apoptosis induced by ATAD2 suppression. In HCC cells, we demonstrated that ATAD2 directly interacted with MKK3/6, which prevented p38 activation and therefore inhibited p38-mediated apoptosis. In vivo, suppression of ATAD2 impaired the growth of HepG2 and Hep3B subcutaneous xenografts, accompanied by enhanced apoptosis and p-p53 and p-p38 levels. Our results validate that ATAD2 is an important negative regulator of apoptosis, and that neutralizing its activity has promising anti-tumor effects in HCC cells.

Liao H, Kang JL, Jiang WY, et al.
Delivery of Constitutively Active Mutant MKK6(E) With TAT-OSBP Induces Apoptosis in Human Ovarian Carcinoma HO8910 Cells.
Int J Gynecol Cancer. 2015; 25(9):1548-56 [PubMed] Related Publications
Biologically active peptides and proteins are novel agents that show promise in the development of anticancer drugs. Their relatively low cell permeability and poor tumor selectivity, however, impede their widespread applicability. In this study, we evaluated the tumor selectivity, cellular internalization, and biological activity of a cell-permeable ovarian cancer cell-specific therapeutic protein consisting of TAT-OSBP and constitutively active MKK6(E), an upstream kinase of the p38 signaling pathway that mediates cellular apoptosis. OSBP, a 7-amino-acid peptide with high affinity for human ovarian cancer HO8910 cells, was conjugated to the cell-penetrating peptide (TAT) to form a tumor-selective peptide (TAT-OSBP), which was further conjugated with EGFP or MKK6(E). Flow cytometry and fluorescent microscopy were performed to evaluate the tumor-targeted penetration of TAT-OSBP-EGFP. The inhibitory effects of TAT-OSBP-MKK6(E) were determined by cell proliferation and apoptosis assays. The internalization efficiency of TAT-OSBP-EGFP was significantly higher than that of TAT-EGFP. TAT-OSBP-EGFP selectively penetrated HO8910 cells. TAT-OSBP-MKK6(E) fusion protein inhibited cancer cell growth to varying degrees, with the highest level of inhibition in HO8910 cells. Moreover, TAT-OSBP-MKK6(E) significantly induced apoptosis of HO8910 cells. However, there was no significant difference in apoptosis in the normal ovarian epithelial cells treated with either TAT-OSBP-MKK6(E) or TAT-MKK6(E). Our results demonstrate that TAT-OSBP-MKK6(E) is a novel artificially designed molecule, which induces apoptosis and selectively targets human ovarian carcinoma HO8910 cells. Our study provides novel insights that may aid in the development of a new generation of anticancer drugs.

Zhong J, Kang J, Wang X, et al.
TAT-OSBP-1-MKK6(E), a novel TAT-fusion protein with high selectivity for human ovarian cancer, exhibits anti-tumor activity.
Med Oncol. 2015; 32(4):118 [PubMed] Related Publications
To improve the selectivity of TAT-fusion proteins for targeted cancer therapy, we developed a novel TAT-based target-specific fusion protein, TAT-OSBP-1-MKK6(E), and evaluated its selectivity and anti-tumor activity in vitro and in vivo. The fusion protein containing TAT-OSBP-1-MKK6(E) has three functional domains: (1) the protein transduction domain of TAT, (2) the human ovarian cancer HO8910 cell-specific binding peptide (OSBP-1) and (3) the potential anti-tumor effector domain of MKK6(E). The transduction efficiency, selectivity, cytotoxicity and apoptotic effect of TAT-OSBP-1-MKK6(E) were examined using immunofluorescence, CCK8 assay and flow cytometry. The in vivo anti-tumor efficacy and target specificity of the fusion protein were evaluated using a nude mouse model with subcutaneous xenografts of human ovarian cancer HO8910 cells. Tumor-bearing mice were divided into three treatment groups that received tail vein injections of TAT-OSBP-1-MKK6(E), TAT-OSBP-1 or normal saline. Tumor growth inhibition was determined by tumor volume, weight and morphology. The distribution and apoptotic effect of TAT-OSBP-1-MKK6(E) were assessed by immunohistochemical staining and TUNEL assays. TAT-OSBP-1-MKK6(E) can be selectively internalized into human ovarian cancer HO8910 cells, rather than normal ovarian OSE cells. In vivo, the fusion protein was mainly expressed in the tumor xenograft, but not in ovary or liver tissues. As a result, TAT-OSBP-1-MKK6(E) significantly induced growth inhibition and apoptosis of tumor cells in vitro and in vivo, with limited effects in normal cells and tissues. TAT-OSBP-1-MKK6(E) treatment can selectively target HO8910 cells in vitro and in vivo, leading to growth inhibition and apoptosis of tumor cells. As such, TAT-OSBP-1-MKK6(E) may be a potential approach for ovarian cancer target therapy.

Marino N, Collins JW, Shen C, et al.
Identification and validation of genes with expression patterns inverse to multiple metastasis suppressor genes in breast cancer cell lines.
Clin Exp Metastasis. 2014; 31(7):771-86 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Metastasis suppressor genes (MSGs) have contributed to an understanding of regulatory pathways unique to the lethal metastatic process. When re-expressed in experimental models, MSGs block cancer spread to, and colonization of distant sites without affecting primary tumor formation. Genes have been identified with expression patterns inverse to a single MSG, and found to encode functional, druggable signaling pathways. We now hypothesize that common signaling pathways mediate the effects of multiple MSGs. By gene expression profiling of human MCF7 breast carcinoma cells expressing a scrambled siRNA, or siRNAs to each of 19 validated MSGs (NME1, BRMS1, CD82, CDH1, CDH2, CDH11, CASP8, MAP2K4, MAP2K6, MAP2K7, MAPK14, GSN, ARHGDIB, AKAP12, DRG1, CD44, PEBP1, RRM1, KISS1), we identified genes whose expression was significantly opposite to at least five MSGs. Five genes were selected for further analysis: PDE5A, UGT1A, IL11RA, DNM3 and OAS1. After stable downregulation of each candidate gene in the aggressive human breast cancer cell line MDA-MB-231T, in vitro motility was significantly inhibited. Two stable clones downregulating PDE5A (phosphodiesterase 5A), an enzyme involved in the regulation of cGMP-specific signaling, exhibited no difference in cell proliferation, but reduced motility by 47 and 66 % compared to the empty vector-expressing cells (p = 0.01 and p = 0.005). In an experimental metastasis assay, two shPDE5A-MDA-MB-231T clones produced 47-62 % fewer lung metastases than shRNA-scramble expressing cells (p = 0.045 and p = 0.009 respectively). This study demonstrates that previously unrecognized genes are inversely related to the expression of multiple MSGs, contribute to aspects of metastasis, and may stand as novel therapeutic targets.

Wang L, Huang J, Jiang M, et al.
CAMK1 phosphoinositide signal-mediated protein sorting and transport network in human hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) by biocomputation.
Cell Biochem Biophys. 2014; 70(2):1011-6 [PubMed] Related Publications
We data-analyzed and constructed the high-expression CAMK1 phosphoinositide signal-mediated protein sorting and transport network in human hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) compared with low-expression (fold change ≥ 2) no-tumor hepatitis/cirrhotic tissues (HBV or HCV infection) in GEO data set, using integration of gene regulatory network inference method with gene ontology (GO). Our result showed that CAMK1 transport subnetwork upstream KCNQ3, LCN2, NKX2_5, NUP62, SORT1, STX1A activated CAMK1, and downstream CAMK1-activated AFP, ENAH, KPNA2, SLC4A3; CAMK1 signal subnetwork upstream BRCA1, DKK1, GPSM2, LEF1, NR5A1, NUP62, SORT1, SSTR5, TBL3 activated CAMK1, and downstream CAMK1-activated MAP2K6, SFRP4, SSTR5, TSHB, UBE2C in HCC. We proposed that CAMK1 activated network enhanced endosome to lysosome transport, endosome transport via multivesicular body sorting pathway, Golgi to endosome transport, intracellular protein transmembrane transport, intracellular protein transport, ion transport, mRNA transport, plasma membrane to endosome transport, potassium ion transport, protein transport, vesicle-mediated transport, anion transport, intracellular transport, androgen receptor signaling pathway, cell surface receptor-linked signal transduction, hormone-mediated signaling, induction of apoptosis by extracellular signals, signal transduction by p53 class mediator resulting in transcription of p21 class mediator, signal transduction resulting in induction of apoptosis, phosphoinositide-mediated signaling, Wnt receptor signaling pathway, as a result of inducing phosphoinositide signal-mediated protein sorting, and transport in HCC. Our hypothesis was verified by CAMK1 functional regulation subnetwork containing positive regulation of calcium ion transport via voltage gated calcium channel, cell proliferation, DNA repair, exocytosis, I-kappaB kinase/NF-kappaB cascade, immunoglobulin-mediated immune response, mast cell activation, natural killer cell-mediated cytotoxicity directed against tumor cell target, protein ubiquitination, sodium ion transport, survival gene product activity, T cell-mediated cytotoxicity, transcription, transcription from RNA polymerase II promoter, transcription initiation from RNA polymerase II promoter, transcription via serum response element binding, exit from mitosis, ubiquitin ligase activity during mitotic cell cycle, regulation of angiogenesis, apoptosis, cell growth, cell proliferation, cyclin-dependent protein kinase activity, gene expression, insulin secretion, steroid biosynthesis, transcription from RNA polymerase II promoter, transcription from RNA polymerase III promoter, cell cycle, cell migration, DNA recombination, and protein metabolism; also by CAMK1 negative functional regulation subnetwork including negative regulation of apoptosis, cell proliferation, centriole replication, fatty acid biosynthesis, lipoprotein lipase activity, MAPK activity, progression through cell cycle, transcription, transcription from RNA polymerase II promoter, cell growth, phosphorylation, and ubiquitin ligase activity during mitotic cell cycle in HCC.

Ma B, Wells A
The mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinases p38 and extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) are involved in hepatocyte-mediated phenotypic switching in prostate cancer cells.
J Biol Chem. 2014; 289(16):11153-61 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
The greatest challenge for the seeding of cancer in metastatic sites is integration into the ectopic microenvironment despite the lack of an orthotopic supportive environment and presence of pro-death signals concomitant with a localized "foreign-body" inflammatory response. In this metastatic location, many carcinoma cells display a reversion of the epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition that marks dissemination in the primary tumor mass. This mesenchymal to epithelial reverting transition (MErT) is thought to help seeding and colonization by protecting against cell death. We have previously shown that hepatocyte coculture induces the re-expression of E-cadherin via abrogation of autocrine EGFR signaling pathway in prostate cancer (PCa) cells and that this confers a survival advantage. Herein, we show that hepatocytes educate PCa to undergo MErT by modulating the activity of p38 and ERK1/2. Hepatocytes inhibited p38 and ERK1/2 activity in prostate cancer cells, which allowed E-cadherin re-expression. Introduction of constitutively active MEK6 and MEK1 to DU145 cells cocultured with hepatocytes abrogated E-cadherin re-expression. At least a partial phenotypic reversion can be achieved by suppression of p38 and ERK1/2 activation in DU145 cells even in the absence of hepatocytes. Interestingly, these mitogen-activated protein kinase activities were also triggered by re-expressed E-cadherin leading to p38 and ERK1/2 activity in PCa cells; these signals provide protection to PCa cells upon challenge with chemotherapy and cell death-inducing cytokines. We propose that distinct p38/ERK pathways are related to E-cadherin levels and function downstream of E-cadherin allowing, respectively, for hepatocyte-mediated MErT and tumor cell survival in the face of death signals.

Tung CL, Chiu HC, Jian YJ, et al.
Down-regulation of MSH2 expression by an Hsp90 inhibitor enhances pemetrexed-induced cytotoxicity in human non-small-cell lung cancer cells.
Exp Cell Res. 2014; 322(2):345-54 [PubMed] Related Publications
Elevated heat shock protein 90 (Hsp90) expression has been linked to poor prognosis in patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). The multitargeted antifolate pemetrexed has demonstrated certain clinical activities against NSCLC. However, the efficacy of the combination of pemtrexed and Hsp90 inhibitor to prolong the survival of patients with NSCLC still remains unclear. Human MutS homolog 2 (MSH2), a crucial element of the highly conserved DNA mismatch repair system, and defects or polymorphisms of MSH2 have been found in lung cancer. In this study, we evaluated the effects of pemetrexed on NSCLC cell lines (H520 and H1703) and found that treatment with this drug at 20-50 µM increased the MSH2 mRNA and protein levels in a MKK3/6-p38 MAPK signal activation-dependent manner. Furthermore, the knockdown of MSH2 expression by transfection with small interfering RNA of MSH2 or the blockage of p38 MAPK activation by SB202190 enhanced the cytotoxicity of pemetrexed. Combining the drug treatment with an Hsp90 inhibitor resulted in an enhanced pemetrexed-induced cytotoxic effect, accompanied with the reduction of MSH2 protein and mRNA levels. The expression of constitutively active MKK6 (MKK6E) or HA-p38 MAPK vectors significantly rescued the decreased p38 MAPK activity, and restored the MSH2 protein levels and cell survival in NSCLC cells co-treated with pemetrexed and Hsp90 inhibitor. In this study, we have demonstrated that down-regulation of the MKK3/6-p38 MAPK signal with the subsequent reduction of MSH2 enhanced the cytotoxic effect of pemetrexed in H520 and H1703 cells. The results suggest a potential future benefit of combining pemetrexed and the Hsp90 inhibitor to treat lung cancer.

Yong KJ, Milenic DE, Baidoo KE, et al.
Gene expression profiling upon (212) Pb-TCMC-trastuzumab treatment in the LS-174T i.p. xenograft model.
Cancer Med. 2013; 2(5):646-53 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Recent studies have demonstrated that therapy with (212) Pb-TCMC-trastuzumab resulted in (1) induction of apoptosis, (2) G2/M arrest, and (3) blockage of double-strand DNA damage repair in LS-174T i.p. (intraperitoneal) xenografts. To further understand the molecular basis of the cell killing efficacy of (212) Pb-TCMC-trastuzumab, gene expression profiling was performed with LS-174T xenografts 24 h after exposure to (212) Pb-TCMC-trastuzumab. DNA damage response genes (84) were screened using a quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction array (qRT-PCR array). Differentially regulated genes were identified following exposure to (212) Pb-TCMC-trastuzumab. These included genes involved in apoptosis (ABL, GADD45α, GADD45γ, PCBP4, and p73), cell cycle (ATM, DDIT3, GADD45α, GTSE1, MKK6, PCBP4, and SESN1), and damaged DNA binding (DDB) and repair (ATM and BTG2). The stressful growth arrest conditions provoked by (212) Pb-TCMC-trastuzumab were found to induce genes involved in apoptosis and cell cycle arrest in the G2/M phase. The expression of genes involved in DDB and single-strand DNA breaks was also enhanced by (212) Pb-TCMC-trastuzumab while no modulation of genes involved in double-strand break repair was apparent. Furthermore, the p73/GADD45 signaling pathway mediated by p38 kinase signaling may be involved in the cellular response, as evidenced by the enhanced expression of genes and proteins of this pathway. These results further support the previously described cell killing mechanism by (212) Pb-TCMC-trastuzumab in the same LS-174T i.p. xenograft. Insight into these mechanisms could lead to improved strategies for rational application of radioimmunotherapy using α-particle emitters.

Ko JC, Chiu HC, Wo TY, et al.
Inhibition of p38 MAPK-dependent MutS homologue-2 (MSH2) expression by metformin enhances gefitinib-induced cytotoxicity in human squamous lung cancer cells.
Lung Cancer. 2013; 82(3):397-406 [PubMed] Related Publications
OBJECTIVES: Gefitinib, a quinazoline-derived tyrosine kinase inhibitor, has anti-tumor activity in vivo and in vitro. Human MutS homologue-2 (MSH2) plays a central role in promoting genetic stability by correcting DNA replication errors. The present study investigated the effects of p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) signal on gefitinib-induced MSH2 expression in two human non-small cell lung squamous cancer cell lines.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: After the gefitinib treatment, the expressions of MSH2 mRNA were determined by real-time PCR and RT-PCR analysis. Protein levels of MSH2, phospho-MKK3/6, phospho-p38 MAPK were determined by Western blot analysis. We used specific MSH2, and p38 MAPK small interfering RNA to examine the role of p38 MAPK-MSH2 signal in regulating the chemosensitivity of gefitinib. Cell viability was assessed by MTS assay, trypan blue exclusion, and colony-forming ability assay.
RESULTS: Exposure of gefitinib increased MSH2 protein and mRNA levels, which was accompanied by MKK3/6-p38 MAPK activation in H520 and H1703 cells. Moreover, blocking p38 MAPK activation by SB202190 significantly decreased gefitinib-induced MSH2 expression by increasing mRNA and protein instability. In contrast, enhancing p38 activation using constitutively active MKK6 (MKK6E) increased MSH2 protein and mRNA levels. Specific inhibition of MSH2 expression by siRNA enhanced gefitinib-induced cytotoxicity. Metformin, an anti-diabetic drug, might reduce cancer risk. In human lung squamous cancer cells, metformin decreased gefitinib-induced MSH2 expression and augmented the cytotoxic effect and growth inhibition by gefitinib. Transient expression of MKK6E or HA-p38 MAPK vector could abrogate metformin and gefitinib-induced synergistic cytotoxic effect in H520 and H1703 cells.
CONCLUSION: Together, down-regulation of MSH2 expression can be a possible strategy to enhance the sensitivity of gefitinib to human lung squamous cancer cells.

Chen RS, Ko JC, Chiu HC, et al.
Pemetrexed downregulates ERCC1 expression and enhances cytotoxicity effected by resveratrol in human nonsmall cell lung cancer cells.
Naunyn Schmiedebergs Arch Pharmacol. 2013; 386(12):1047-59 [PubMed] Related Publications
The multitargeted antifolate pemetrexed has demonstrated certain clinical activities against nonsmall cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Resveratrol (3,5,4-trihydroxy-trans-stilbene) is a polyphenol found in grapes and other plants and has great potential as a preventative and therapeutic agent due to its anticarcinogenic activity. The efficacy of adding resveratrol to pemetrexed to prolong the survival of patients with NSCLC still remains unclear. The excision repair cross-complementation 1 (ERCC1) is a DNA repair gene coding 5' endonuclease in nucleotide excision repair and is overexpressed in chemo- or radioresistant carcinomas. In this study, resveratrol (10-50 μM) inhibited cell survival in two NSCLC cells, H520 and H1975. Treatment with resveratrol increased ERCC1 messenger RNA and protein levels in a MKK3/6-p38 MAPK signal activation-dependent manner. Furthermore, blocking p38 MAPK activation by SB202190 or knocking down ERCC1 expression by transfection with small interfering RNA of ERCC1 enhanced the cytotoxicity of resveratrol. Combining resveratrol with pemetrexed resulted in a synergistic cytotoxic effect, accompanied with the reduction of phospho-p38 MAPK and ERCC1 protein levels, and a DNA repair capacity. Expression of constitutively active MKK6 (MKK6E) or HA-p38 MAPK vectors significantly rescued the decreased p38 MAPK activity, and restored ERCC1 protein levels and cell survival in resveratrol and pemetrexed cotreated NSCLC cells. In this study, for the first time, we have demonstrated the synergistic effect of combined treatment with resveratrol and pemetrexed in human NSCLC cells through downregulation of the MKK3/6-p38 MAPK-ERCC1 signal, suggesting a potential benefit of combining resveratrol and pemetrexed to treat lung cancer in the future.

Szabó DR, Baghy K, Szabó PM, et al.
Antitumoral effects of 9-cis retinoic acid in adrenocortical cancer.
Cell Mol Life Sci. 2014; 71(5):917-32 [PubMed] Related Publications
The currently available medical treatment options of adrenocortical cancer (ACC) are limited. In our previous meta-analysis of adrenocortical tumor genomics data, ACC was associated with reduced retinoic acid production and retinoid X receptor-mediated signaling. Our objective has been to study the potential antitumoral effects of 9-cis retinoic acid (9-cisRA) on the ACC cell line NCI-H295R and in a xenograft model. Cell proliferation, hormone secretion, and gene expression have been studied in the NCI-H295R cell line. A complex bioinformatics approach involving pathway and network analysis has been performed. Selected genes have been validated by real-time qRT-PCR. Athymic nude mice xenografted with NCI-H295R have been used in a pilot in vivo xenograft model. 9-cisRA significantly decreased cell viability and steroid hormone secretion in a concentration- and time-dependent manner in the NCI-H295R cell line. Four major molecular pathways have been identified by the analysis of gene expression data. Ten genes have been successfully validated involved in: (1) steroid hormone secretion (HSD3B1, HSD3B2), (2) retinoic acid signaling (ABCA1, ABCG1, HMGCR), (3) cell-cycle damage (GADD45A, CCNE2, UHRF1), and the (4) immune response (MAP2K6, IL1R2). 9-cisRA appears to directly regulate the cell cycle by network analysis. 9-cisRA also reduced tumor growth in the in vivo xenograft model. In conclusion, 9-cisRA might represent a promising new candidate in the treatment of hormone-secreting adrenal tumors and adrenocortical cancer.

Zhu H, Wang Z, Xu Q, et al.
Inhibition of STAT1 sensitizes renal cell carcinoma cells to radiotherapy and chemotherapy.
Cancer Biol Ther. 2012; 13(6):401-7 [PubMed] Related Publications
Renal cell carcinoma is resistant to chemotherapy and radiotherapy. STAT1 is overexpressed in human RCC tissue. Downregulation of STAT1 expression could significantly increase the radiosensitivity in RCC cell lines. To further investigate the function of STAT1 in RCC resistance to chemoradiotherapy, a stable STAT1 knockdown cell line was established. Knockdown of STAT1 led to significant growth suppression in vitro and in vivo. Inhibition of STAT1 sensitized 786-O cells to radiotherapy and Taxol treatment. Cells with low STAT1 expression accumulated more strongly in the G 2/M phase after treatment with chemotherapy and radiotherapy. The Human Cell Cycle and DNA Damage Signaling Pathway Real-time PCR arrays were performed and 3 genes upregulated and 16 genes downregulated after STAT1 knockdown were selected. Functional gene grouping showed that genes involved in the M phase, S phase and DNA replication did not differ between the two cell lines. G 1 phase related genes ANAPC2, CCNE1, CUL1 were downregulated, and G 2/M checkpoint genes p21, GADD45A and Rb were strongly reduced by STAT1 knockdown. DNA damage-related genes GADD45A, MAP2K6, were significantly downregulated. The results prove that overexpression of STAT1 in human RCC is associated with the chemoradioresistance. Targeting of STAT1 might be a potential strategy to sensitize RCC to chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

Galan-Moya EM, de la Cruz-Morcillo MA, Llanos Valero M, et al.
Balance between MKK6 and MKK3 mediates p38 MAPK associated resistance to cisplatin in NSCLC.
PLoS One. 2011; 6(12):e28406 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
The p38 MAPK signaling pathway has been proposed as a critical mediator of the therapeutic effect of several antitumor agents, including cisplatin. Here, we found that sensitivity to cisplatin, in a system of 7 non-small cell lung carcinoma derived cell lines, correlated with high levels of MKK6 and marked activation of p38 MAPK. However, knockdown of MKK6 modified neither the response to cisplatin nor the activation of p38 MAPK. Deeper studies showed that resistant cell lines also displayed higher basal levels of MKK3. Interestingly, MKK3 knockdown significantly decreased p38 phosphorylation upon cisplatin exposure and consequently reduced the response to the drug. Indeed, cisplatin poorly activated MKK3 in resistant cells, while in sensitive cell lines MKK3 showed the opposite pattern in response to the drug. Our data also demonstrate that the low levels of MKK6 expressed in resistant cell lines are the consequence of high basal activity of p38 MAPK mediated by the elevated levels of MKK3. This finding supports the existence of a regulatory mechanism between both MAPK kinases through their MAPK. Furthermore, our results were also mirrored in head and neck carcinoma derived cell lines, suggesting our observations boast a potential universal characteristic in cancer resistance of cisplatin. Altogether, our work provides evidence that MKK3 is the major determinant of p38 MAPK activation in response to cisplatin and, hence, the resistance associated with this MAPK. Therefore, these data suggest that the balance between both MKK3 and MKK6 could be a novel mechanism which explains the cellular response to cisplatin.

Otto KB, Acharya SS, Robinson VL
Stress-activated kinase pathway alteration is a frequent event in bladder cancer.
Urol Oncol. 2012 Jul-Aug; 30(4):415-20 [PubMed] Related Publications
OBJECTIVES: The stress-activated MAP kinases (SAPK) signaling pathways play a critical role in the cellular response to toxins and physical stress, mediate inflammation, and modulate carcinogenesis and tumor metastasis. The stress-activated MAP kinases (MAPK) c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) and p38 are activated upon phosphorylation by a widely expressed and conserved family of upstream MAP kinase kinases (MAP2K). Signaling mediated by p38 and JNK has well-established importance in cancer, yet the contribution of this pathway in urothelial bladder cancer is not understood. This study evaluated stress-activated MAP kinase pathway expression in cell lines derived from human urothelial carcinomas.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: Total protein lysates from a panel of human urothelial bladder cancer cell lines (RT4, T24, UMUC-3, J82, 5637, 253J, and 253J-BV) were analyzed by immunoblotting for the JNK and p38 MAPKs, as well as MKK3, MKK4, MKK6, and MKK7. Quantitative real time PCR was utilized to determine mRNA expression levels of the MAP2Ks. Stress stimuli (sorbitol, hydrogen peroxide, and UV irradiation) were used to active p38, which was measured by phospho-antibody.
RESULTS: Although protein levels were variable, all cell lines expressed p38 and JNK. On the other hand, with the exception of the well-differentiated cell line RT4, each cell line had a reduction or absence of expression of one or more MAP2K. 253J and 253J-BV exhibited no expression of MKK6, even when an excess of protein was queried. mRNA levels indicated that both transcriptional and post-transcriptional mechanisms are involved in the regulation of MAP2Ks. Decreased MAP2K expression correlated with decreased ability to activate p38 in response to stress stimuli.
CONCLUSIONS: Aberrant MAP2K protein expression indicates that altered cellular signal transduction mediated via JNK and p38 may be common in bladder cancer. Down-regulation of MAP2Ks likely occurs at both the transcriptional and post-transcriptional levels. Consistent with the known function of p38 and JNK in apoptosis, defects in normal pathway function caused by decreased expression of upstream MAP2Ks may provide a survival advantage to bladder cancer cells. Further investigations should focus on identifying a functional role for these pathways in bladder cancer development.

Tsai MS, Weng SH, Chen HJ, et al.
Inhibition of p38 MAPK-dependent excision repair cross-complementing 1 expression decreases the DNA repair capacity to sensitize lung cancer cells to etoposide.
Mol Cancer Ther. 2012; 11(3):561-71 [PubMed] Related Publications
Etoposide (VP-16), a topoisomerase II inhibitor, is an effective anticancer drug currently used for the treatment of a wide range of cancers. Excision repair cross-complementary 1 (ERCC1) is a key protein involved in the process of nucleotide excision repair. High level of ERCC1 expression in cancers is associated with resistance to DNA damage-based chemotherapy. In this study, the effects of p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) signal on the ERCC1 expression induced by etoposide in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) cell lines was investigated. Etoposide increased phosphorylated MAPK kinase 3/6 (MKK3/6)-p38 MAPK and ERCC1 protein and mRNA levels in A549 and H1975 cells. Moreover, SB202190, a p38 inhibitor, or knockdown of p38 expression by specific short interfering RNA (siRNA) significantly decreased the etoposide-induced ERCC1 protein levels and DNA repair capacity in etoposide-exposed NSCLC cells. Enhancement of p38 activation by constitutively active MKK6 (MKK6E) increased ERCC1 protein levels. Specific inhibition of ERCC1 by siRNA significantly enhanced the etoposide-induced cytotoxicity and hypoxanthine guanine phosphoribosyltransferase (hprt) gene mutation rate. Moreover, the Hsp90 inhibitor 17-allylamino-17-demethoxygeldanamycin (17-AAG) could decrease the etoposide-induced p38 MAPK-mediated ERCC1 expression and augment the cytotoxic effect and growth inhibition by etopsoside. 17-AAG and etoposide-induced synergistic cytotoxic effect and DNA repair capacity decrease could be abrogated in lung cancer cells with MKK6E or HA-p38 MAPK expression vector transfection. Our results suggest that in human NSCLC cells, ERCC1 is induced by etoposide through the p38 MAPK pathway, and this phenomenon is required for NSCLC survival and resistant DNA damage.

Klopfleisch R, Lenze D, Hummel M, Gruber AD
The metastatic cascade is reflected in the transcriptome of metastatic canine mammary carcinomas.
Vet J. 2011; 190(2):236-43 [PubMed] Related Publications
Proliferation, dedifferentiation and loss of cell-cell contacts are amongst the first steps of the metastatic cascade. The complex molecular pathways and gene expression changes associated with these events in canine mammary tumors are still largely undetermined. In this study, the transcriptome of 13 lymph node positive canine mammary carcinomas and corresponding non-neoplastic mammary glands were compared to identify the molecular pathways associated with metastatic progression. Differential gene expression was analyzed using gene set enrichment and pathway analysis and compared with gene expression data from human breast cancer. Metastatic canine carcinomas had 1312 significantly differentially expressed genes compared to normal mammary glands. This expression profile included a significant up-regulation of cell division and matrix invasion genes (MMP, SERPINE1, TIMP3). In contrast, genes associated with epithelial differentiation (EGF, EGFR, MAP2K6, STAT 5), cell adhesion (CLDN5, CTNNAL1, MUC1, PECAM1) and angiogenesis (ANGPT 2, ANGPTL1-4, FIGF, TIE1) were mostly down-regulated. Tumors had a significant decrease in membrane receptors and pathway gene expression (EGFR, FGFR1, GHR, PDGFR, TGFBR, TIE1) indicating a tendency towards independence from these proliferative stimuli. A number of the identified deregulated pathways overlapped with gene expression profiles of human breast cancer. Gene expression profiling of metastatic carcinomas, therefore, identified molecular pathways and functional gene families that are deregulated during malignant progression in canine mammary tumors.

Kumar V, Behera R, Lohite K, et al.
p38 kinase is crucial for osteopontin-induced furin expression that supports cervical cancer progression.
Cancer Res. 2010; 70(24):10381-91 [PubMed] Related Publications
p38 kinases activated by growth factors, hormones, and environmental stresses exert diverse functions in regulating normal and malignant cell pathophysiology. Enhanced levels of activated p38 isoforms have been linked with poor prognosis in breast cancer, although the mechanistic basis for this association is poorly understood. In this study, we report that p38 activation in cervical cancer cells is driven by osteopontin (OPN), an extracellular matrix-associated cytokine that drives invasive progression. OPN regulates CD44-mediated p38 phosphorylation that induces NF-κB activation and NF-κB-dependent expression of furin, an extracellular protease implicated in human papilloma virus (HPV) processing that enhances cervical cancer cell motility. OPN induces CD44-mediated MKK3/6 phosphorylation which in turn phosphorylates p38 in these cells. OPN-induced furin expression and cell motility was impeded by blockades to MKK3/6, p38α/β or NF-κB signaling. In a mouse xenograft model of human cervical cancer, tumor growth was enhanced by OPN overexpression and blocked by short hairpin RNA (shRNA)-mediated OPN silencing. Furin overexpression similarly augmented tumor growth in the model, whereas blocking MKK3/6, p38, or furin reduced OPN-induced cervical tumor growth. Analysis of clinical specimens revealed that enhanced expression of OPN, phosphorylated NF-κB, p65, and furin correlated with cervical cancer progression, further strengthening the in vitro and in vivo results. In summary, our findings offer a proof of concept for targeting OPN and its downstream p38 signaling as a novel therapeutic strategy to manage cervical cancer.

Tsuchimochi K, Otero M, Dragomir CL, et al.
GADD45beta enhances Col10a1 transcription via the MTK1/MKK3/6/p38 axis and activation of C/EBPbeta-TAD4 in terminally differentiating chondrocytes.
J Biol Chem. 2010; 285(11):8395-407 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
GADD45beta (growth arrest- and DNA damage-inducible) interacts with upstream regulators of the JNK and p38 stress response kinases. Previously, we reported that the hypertrophic zone of the Gadd45beta(-/-) mouse embryonic growth plate is compressed, and expression of type X collagen (Col10a1) and matrix metalloproteinase 13 (Mmp13) genes is decreased. Herein, we report that GADD45beta enhances activity of the proximal Col10a1 promoter, which contains evolutionarily conserved AP-1, cAMP-response element, and C/EBP half-sites, in synergism with C/EBP family members, whereas the MMP13 promoter responds to GADD45beta together with AP-1, ATF, or C/EBP family members. C/EBPbeta expression also predominantly co-localizes with GADD45beta in the embryonic growth plate. Moreover, GADD45beta enhances C/EBPbeta activation via MTK1, MKK3, and MKK6, and dominant-negative p38alphaapf, but not JNKapf, disrupts the combined trans-activating effect of GADD45beta and C/EBPbeta on the Col10a1 promoter. Importantly, GADD45beta knockdown prevents p38 phosphorylation while decreasing Col10a1 mRNA levels but does not affect C/EBPbeta binding to the Col10a1 promoter in vivo, indicating that GADD45beta influences the transactivation function of DNA-bound C/EBPbeta. In support of this conclusion, we show that the evolutionarily conserved TAD4 domain of C/EBPbeta is the target of the GADD45beta-dependent signaling. Collectively, we have uncovered a novel molecular mechanism linking GADD45beta via the MTK1/MKK3/6/p38 axis to C/EBPbeta-TAD4 activation of Col10a1 transcription in terminally differentiating chondrocytes.

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