Gene Summary

Gene:MAPK1; mitogen-activated protein kinase 1
Aliases: ERK, p38, p40, p41, ERK2, ERT1, ERK-2, MAPK2, PRKM1, PRKM2, P42MAPK, p41mapk, p42-MAPK
Summary:This gene encodes a member of the MAP kinase family. MAP kinases, also known as extracellular signal-regulated kinases (ERKs), act as an integration point for multiple biochemical signals, and are involved in a wide variety of cellular processes such as proliferation, differentiation, transcription regulation and development. The activation of this kinase requires its phosphorylation by upstream kinases. Upon activation, this kinase translocates to the nucleus of the stimulated cells, where it phosphorylates nuclear targets. One study also suggests that this protein acts as a transcriptional repressor independent of its kinase activity. The encoded protein has been identified as a moonlighting protein based on its ability to perform mechanistically distinct functions. Two alternatively spliced transcript variants encoding the same protein, but differing in the UTRs, have been reported for this gene. [provided by RefSeq, Jan 2014]
Databases:OMIM, VEGA, HGNC, Ensembl, GeneCard, Gene
Protein:mitogen-activated protein kinase 1
Source:NCBIAccessed: 20 August, 2015


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 (1990-2015)
Graph generated 21 August 2015 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 20 August, 2015 using data from PubMed, MeSH and CancerIndex

Specific Cancers (8)

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: MAPK1 (cancer-related)

Goda AE, Erikson RL, Ahn JS, Kim BY
Induction of G1 Arrest by SB265610 Involves Cyclin D3 Down-regulation and Suppression of CDK2 (Thr160) Phosphorylation.
Anticancer Res. 2015; 35(6):3235-43 [PubMed] Related Publications
BACKGROUND/AIM: The current study investigated the mechanisms underlying the antitumor activity of SB265610, a cysteine-amino acid-cysteine (CXC) chemokines receptor 2 (CXCR2) antagonist.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: Cell-cycle progression and regulatory molecules were assessed by flow cytometry, immunoblotting, real-time PCR and immunoprecipitation. Target validation was achieved via RNA interference.
RESULTS: G1 arrest induced by SB265610 occurred at concentrations lacking CXCR2 selectivity, persisted upon interleukin 8 (IL8) challenge, and did not affect IL8 downstream target expression. Profiling of G1 regulators revealed cyclin-dependent kinase 2 (CDK2) (Thr160) hypophosphorylation, cyclin D3 gene down-regulation, and p21 post-translational induction. However, only cyclin D3 and CDK2 contributed towards G1 arrest. Furthermore, SB265610 induced a sustained phosphorylation of the p38MAPK. Pharmacological interference with p38MAPK significantly abrogated SB265610-induced G1 arrest and normalized the expression of cyclin D3, with restoration of its exclusive binding to CDK6, but with weak recovery of CDK2 (Thr160) hypo-phosphorylation.
CONCLUSION: The present study described the mechanisms for the anti-proliferative activity of SB265610 which may be of value in IL8-rich tumor microenvironments.

Shagisultanova E, Gaponova AV, Gabbasov R, et al.
Preclinical and clinical studies of the NEDD9 scaffold protein in cancer and other diseases.
Gene. 2015; 567(1):1-11 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/08/2016 Related Publications
Cancer progression requires a significant reprogramming of cellular signaling to support the essential tumor-specific processes that include hyperproliferation, invasion (for solid tumors) and survival of metastatic colonies. NEDD9 (also known as CasL and HEF1) encodes a multi-domain scaffolding protein that assembles signaling complexes regulating multiple cellular processes relevant to cancer. These include responsiveness to signals emanating from the T and B cell receptors, integrins, chemokine receptors, and receptor tyrosine kinases, as well as cytoplasmic oncogenes such as BCR-ABL and FAK- and SRC-family kinases. Downstream, NEDD9 regulation of partners including CRKL, WAVE, PI3K/AKT, ERK, E-cadherin, Aurora-A (AURKA), HDAC6, and others allow NEDD9 to influence functions as pleiotropic as migration, invasion, survival, ciliary resorption, and mitosis. In this review, we summarize a growing body of preclinical and clinical data that indicate that while NEDD9 is itself non-oncogenic, changes in expression of NEDD9 (most commonly elevation of expression) are common features of tumors, and directly impact tumor aggressiveness, metastasis, and response to at least some targeted agents inhibiting NEDD9-interacting proteins. These data strongly support the relevance of further development of NEDD9 as a biomarker for therapeutic resistance. Finally, we briefly discuss emerging evidence supporting involvement of NEDD9 in additional pathological conditions, including stroke and polycystic kidney disease.

Okoh VO, Garba NA, Penney RB, et al.
Redox signalling to nuclear regulatory proteins by reactive oxygen species contributes to oestrogen-induced growth of breast cancer cells.
Br J Cancer. 2015; 112(10):1687-702 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 12/05/2016 Related Publications
BACKGROUND: 17β-Oestradiol (E2)-induced reactive oxygen species (ROS) have been implicated in regulating the growth of breast cancer cells. However, the underlying mechanism of this is not clear. Here we show how ROS through a novel redox signalling pathway involving nuclear respiratory factor-1 (NRF-1) and p27 contribute to E2-induced growth of MCF-7 breast cancer cells.
METHODS: Chromatin immunoprecipitation, qPCR, mass spectrometry, redox western blot, colony formation, cell proliferation, ROS assay, and immunofluorescence microscopy were used to study the role of NRF-1.
RESULTS: The major novel finding of this study is the demonstration of oxidative modification of phosphatases PTEN and CDC25A by E2-generated ROS along with the subsequent activation of AKT and ERK pathways that culminated in the activation of NRF-1 leading to the upregulation of cell cycle genes. 17β-Oestradiol-induced ROS by influencing nuclear proteins p27 and Jab1 also contributed to the growth of MCF-7 cells.
CONCLUSIONS: Taken together, our results present evidence in the support of E2-induced ROS-mediated AKT signalling leading to the activation of NRF-1-regulated cell cycle genes as well as the impairment of p27 activity, which is presumably necessary for the growth of MCF-7 cells. These observations are important because they provide a new paradigm by which oestrogen may contribute to the growth of breast cancer.

Ausawasamrit A, Itthiwarapornkul N, Chaotham C, et al.
Lupalbigenin from Derris scandens Sensitizes Detachment-induced Cell Death in Human Lung Cancer Cells.
Anticancer Res. 2015; 35(5):2827-34 [PubMed] Related Publications
BACKGROUND/AIM: The ability of cancer cells to resist to anoikis has been shown to augment cancer cell metastasis in many cancers. In search for potential substances for anti-metastatic approaches, this study aimed to investigate anoikis-sensitizing activity of lupalbigenin, extracted from Derris scandens.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: Human lung cancer cells were treated with non-cytotoxic concentrations of lupalbigenin in a detachment condition. Anoikis was evaluated at various time points using MTT viability assays. The effect of lupalbigenin on anchorage-independent growth was performed by soft-agar assay. The survival signaling proteins, as well as regulatory proteins of apoptosis and metastasis, were examined by western blot analysis.
RESULTS: Lupalbigenin treatment significantly down-regulated survival proteins, including protein kinase B (pAKT/AKT) and extracellular signal-regulated kinase (pERK/ERK), as well as anti-apoptotic protein B-cell lymphoma 2 (BCL-2), resulting in the enhancement of the cellular response to anoikis and the decrease of growth and survival in an anchorage-independent condition.
CONCLUSION: Lupalbigenin sensitizes detachment-induced cell death in human lung cancer cell through down-regulation of pro-survival proteins.

Amankwatia EB, Chakravarty P, Carey FA, et al.
MicroRNA-224 is associated with colorectal cancer progression and response to 5-fluorouracil-based chemotherapy by KRAS-dependent and -independent mechanisms.
Br J Cancer. 2015; 112(9):1480-90 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 28/04/2016 Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Colorectal cancers arise from benign adenomas, although not all adenomas progress to cancer and there are marked interpatient differences in disease progression. We have previously associated KRAS mutations with disease progression and reduced survival in colorectal cancer patients.
METHODS: We used TaqMan low-density array (TLDA) qRT-PCR analysis to identify miRNAs differentially expressed in normal colorectal mucosa, adenomas and cancers and in isogeneic KRAS WT and mutant HCT116 cells, and used a variety of phenotypic assays to assess the influence of miRNA expression on KRAS activity, chemosensitivity, proliferation and invasion.
RESULTS: MicroRNA-224 was differentially expressed in dysplastic colorectal disease and in isogeneic KRAS WT and mutant HCT116 cells. Antagomir-mediated miR-224 silencing in HCT116 KRAS WT cells phenocopied KRAS mutation, increased KRAS activity and ERK and AKT phosphorylation. 5-FU chemosensitivity was significantly increased in miR-224 knockdown cells, and in NIH3T3 cells expressing KRAS and BRAF mutant proteins. Bioinformatics analysis of predicted miR-224 target genes predicted altered cell proliferation, invasion and epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) phenotypes that were experimentally confirmed in miR-224 knockdown cells.
CONCLUSIONS: We describe a novel mechanism of KRAS regulation, and highlight the clinical utility of colorectal cancer-specific miRNAs as disease progression or clinical response biomarkers.

Pérez-Gómez E, Andradas C, Blasco-Benito S, et al.
Role of cannabinoid receptor CB2 in HER2 pro-oncogenic signaling in breast cancer.
J Natl Cancer Inst. 2015; 107(6):djv077 [PubMed] Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Pharmacological activation of cannabinoid receptors elicits antitumoral responses in different cancer models. However, the biological role of these receptors in tumor physio-pathology is still unknown.
METHODS: We analyzed CB2 cannabinoid receptor protein expression in two series of 166 and 483 breast tumor samples operated in the University Hospitals of Kiel, Tübingen, and Freiburg between 1997 and 2010 and CB2 mRNA expression in previously published DNA microarray datasets. The role of CB2 in oncogenesis was studied by generating a mouse line that expresses the human V-Erb-B2 Avian Erythroblastic Leukemia Viral Oncogene Homolog 2 (HER2) rat ortholog (neu) and lacks CB2 and by a variety of biochemical and cell biology approaches in human breast cancer cells in culture and in vivo, upon modulation of CB2 expression by si/shRNAs and overexpression plasmids. CB2-HER2 molecular interaction was studied by colocalization, coimmunoprecipitation, and proximity ligation assays. Statistical tests were two-sided.
RESULTS: We show an association between elevated CB2 expression in HER2+ breast tumors and poor patient prognosis (decreased overall survival, hazard ratio [HR] = 0.29, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.09 to 0.71, P = .009) and higher probability to suffer local recurrence (HR = 0.09, 95% CI = 0.049 to 0.54, P = .003) and to develop distant metastases (HR = 0.33, 95% CI = 0.13 to 0.75, P = .009). We also demonstrate that genetic inactivation of CB2 impairs tumor generation and progression in MMTV-neu mice. Moreover, we show that HER2 upregulates CB2 expression by activating the transcription factor ELK1 via the ERK cascade and that an increased CB2 expression activates the HER2 pro-oncogenic signaling at the level of the tyrosine kinase c-SRC. Finally, we show HER2 and CB2 form heteromers in cancer cells.
CONCLUSIONS: Our findings reveal an unprecedented role of CB2 as a pivotal regulator of HER2 pro-oncogenic signaling in breast cancer, and they suggest that CB2 may be a biomarker with prognostic value in these tumors.

Virtakoivu R, Mai A, Mattila E, et al.
Vimentin-ERK Signaling Uncouples Slug Gene Regulatory Function.
Cancer Res. 2015; 75(11):2349-62 [PubMed] Related Publications
Epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) in cells is a developmental process adopted during tumorigenesis that promotes metastatic capacity. In this study, we advance understanding of EMT control in cancer cells with the description of a novel vimentin-ERK axis that regulates the transcriptional activity of Slug (SNAI2). Vimentin, ERK, and Slug exhibited overlapping subcellular localization in clinical specimens of triple-negative breast carcinoma. RNAi-mediated ablation of these gene products inhibited cancer cell migration and cell invasion through a laminin-rich matrix. Biochemical analyses demonstrated direct interaction of vimentin and ERK, which promoted ERK activation and enhanced vimentin transcription. Consistent with its role as an intermediate filament, vimentin acted as a scaffold to recruit Slug to ERK and promote Slug phosphorylation at serine-87. Site-directed mutagenesis established a requirement for ERK-mediated Slug phosphorylation in EMT initiation. Together, these findings identified a pivotal step in controlling the ability of Slug to organize hallmarks of EMT.

Ameziane-El-Hassani R, Talbot M, de Souza Dos Santos MC, et al.
NADPH oxidase DUOX1 promotes long-term persistence of oxidative stress after an exposure to irradiation.
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2015; 112(16):5051-6 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 21/10/2015 Related Publications
Ionizing radiation (IR) causes not only acute tissue damage, but also late effects in several cell generations after the initial exposure. The thyroid gland is one of the most sensitive organs to the carcinogenic effects of IR, and we have recently highlighted that an oxidative stress is responsible for the chromosomal rearrangements found in radio-induced papillary thyroid carcinoma. Using both a human thyroid cell line and primary thyrocytes, we investigated the mechanism by which IR induces the generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) several days after irradiation. We focused on NADPH oxidases, which are specialized ROS-generating enzymes known as NOX/DUOX. Our results show that IR induces delayed NADPH oxidase DUOX1-dependent H2O2 production in a dose-dependent manner, which is sustained for several days. We report that p38 MAPK, activated after IR, increased DUOX1 via IL-13 expression, leading to persistent DNA damage and growth arrest. Pretreatment of cells with catalase, a scavenger of H2O2, or DUOX1 down-regulation by siRNA abrogated IR-induced DNA damage. Analysis of human thyroid tissues showed that DUOX1 is elevated not only in human radio-induced thyroid tumors, but also in sporadic thyroid tumors. Taken together, our data reveal a key role of DUOX1-dependent H2O2 production in long-term persistent radio-induced DNA damage. Our data also show that DUOX1-dependent H2O2 production, which induces DNA double-strand breaks, can cause genomic instability and promote the generation of neoplastic cells through its mutagenic effect.

Dai L, Chen Y, Toole B, et al.
Induction of hyaluronan production by oncogenic KSHV and the contribution to viral pathogenesis in AIDS patients.
Cancer Lett. 2015; 362(2):158-66 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/07/2016 Related Publications
Kaposi sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV) is the etiologic agent for Kaposi's sarcoma (KS) and primary effusion lymphoma (PEL), malignancies arising primarily in immunocompromised patients particularly AIDS-patients, which still lack effective therapy. Hyaluronan (HA) is a large glucuronic acid and has been found closely related to multiple functions in cancer cells, although its role in viral oncogenesis remains largely unknown. Here we provide first evidence that KSHV de novo infection induces HA production from primary endothelial cells through upregulation of HA synthase gene 1 (Has1) and a multifunctional glycoprotein, CD147. Further data demonstrate that KSHV-induced HA production requires viral latent protein, LANA (in particular functional domain A) and MAPK/ERK signaling activities. In functions, HA production is necessary for KSHV/LANA-induced primary endothelial cell invasion, a hallmark feature for KS development. For clinical relevance, our data indicate that the KSHV+ group has higher levels of HA and Has1 activities in its plasma than the KSHV- group of cohort HIV-infected patients. Together, our findings provide innovative insights into the mechanisms of oncogenic virus activation of HA production and its role in virus-associated malignancy pathogenesis, which may help to develop novel therapeutic strategies by targeting HA and related signaling.

Wang S, Wang L, Chen M, Wang Y
Gambogic acid sensitizes resistant breast cancer cells to doxorubicin through inhibiting P-glycoprotein and suppressing survivin expression.
Chem Biol Interact. 2015; 235:76-84 [PubMed] Related Publications
The development of resistance to chemotherapeutic agents remains a major challenge to breast cancer chemotherapy. Overexpression of drug efflux transporters like P-glycoprotein (P-gp) and resistance to apoptosis are the two key factors that confer cancer drug resistance. Gambogic acid (GA), a major component of Gamboge resin, has potent anticancer effects and can inhibit the growth of several types of human cancers. However, the potential and underlying mechanisms of GA in reversing cancer resistance remain poorly understood. In the present study, we found that GA can markedly sensitize doxorubicin (DOX)-resistant breast cancer cells to DOX-mediated cell death. GA increased the intracellular accumulation of DOX by inhibiting both P-gp expression and activity. Meanwhile, the combination effect was associated with the generation of intracellular reactive oxygen species (ROS) and the suppression of anti-apoptotic protein survivin. Scavenging intracellular ROS or overexpression of survivin blocked the sensitizing effects of GA in DOX-induced apoptosis. Furthermore, ROS-mediated activation of p38 MAPK was revealed in GA-mediated suppression of survivin expression. This study gives rise to the possibility of applying GA as an anticancer agent for the purpose of combating DOX-resistant breast cancer.

Liu Y, Zhang M, Qian J, et al.
miR-134 functions as a tumor suppressor in cell proliferation and epithelial-to-mesenchymal Transition by targeting KRAS in renal cell carcinoma cells.
DNA Cell Biol. 2015; 34(6):429-36 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/06/2016 Related Publications
Aberrant microRNAs (miRNAs) are reported to contribute to the pathogenesis of most human malignancies. The miRNA, miR-134, has been found to be downregulated in renal cell carcinoma (RCC), but its function in the disease is unknown. The aims of this study were to detect the expression of miR-134 in human RCC samples and explore its function in RCC cell lines. Real-time qualitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) was used to quantify miR-134 in human RCC samples. Assays for cell cycle, viability, migration, and invasion were performed to assess the phenotypic changes in RCC cells. A luciferase reporter assay was carried out to confirm whether KRAS (Kirsten rat sarcoma viral oncogene homolog) is a direct target of miR-134. Western blot was used to identify the potential signaling pathways that had an impact on RCC cell growth and alterations of markers for epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT), which affected metastasis by miR-134. miR-134 was found to be downregulated in RCC samples (p<0.05), while overexpression of miR-134 suppressed proliferation (p<0.05) by triggering G1/G0 cell cycle arrest (p<0.05). Forced expression of miR-134 could also inhibit migration (p<0.05) and invasion (p<0.05) by blocking EMT in RCC cell lines. KRAS was identified as a target of miR-134, and miR-134 may act as a tumor suppressor through the KRAS-related MAPK/ERK pathway other than PI3K/AKT signaling. Thus, miR-134 may function as a tumor suppressor in cell proliferation and EMT by targeting KRAS in RCC cells.

Person RJ, Ngalame NN, Makia NL, et al.
Chronic inorganic arsenic exposure in vitro induces a cancer cell phenotype in human peripheral lung epithelial cells.
Toxicol Appl Pharmacol. 2015; 286(1):36-43 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/07/2016 Related Publications
Inorganic arsenic is a human lung carcinogen. We studied the ability of chronic inorganic arsenic (2 μM; as sodium arsenite) exposure to induce a cancer phenotype in the immortalized, non-tumorigenic human lung peripheral epithelial cell line, HPL-1D. After 38 weeks of continuous arsenic exposure, secreted matrix metalloproteinase-2 (MMP2) activity increased to over 200% of control, levels linked to arsenic-induced cancer phenotypes in other cell lines. The invasive capacity of these chronic arsenic-treated lung epithelial (CATLE) cells increased to 320% of control and colony formation increased to 280% of control. CATLE cells showed enhanced proliferation in serum-free media indicative of autonomous growth. Compared to control cells, CATLE cells showed reduced protein expression of the tumor suppressor gene PTEN (decreased to 26% of control) and the putative tumor suppressor gene SLC38A3 (14% of control). Morphological evidence of epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) occurred in CATLE cells together with appropriate changes in expression of the EMT markers vimentin (VIM; increased to 300% of control) and e-cadherin (CDH1; decreased to 16% of control). EMT is common in carcinogenic transformation of epithelial cells. CATLE cells showed increased KRAS (291%), ERK1/2 (274%), phosphorylated ERK (p-ERK; 152%), and phosphorylated AKT1 (p-AKT1; 170%) protein expression. Increased transcript expression of metallothioneins, MT1A and MT2A and the stress response genes HMOX1 (690%) and HIF1A (247%) occurred in CATLE cells possibly in adaptation to chronic arsenic exposure. Thus, arsenic induced multiple cancer cell characteristics in human peripheral lung epithelial cells. This model may be useful to assess mechanisms of arsenic-induced lung cancer.

Ma D, Fang Q, Wang P, et al.
Induction of heme oxygenase-1 by Na+-H+ exchanger 1 protein plays a crucial role in imatinib-resistant chronic myeloid leukemia cells.
J Biol Chem. 2015; 290(20):12558-71 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 15/05/2016 Related Publications
Resistance toward imatinib (IM) and other BCR/ABL tyrosine kinase inhibitors remains troublesome in the treatment of advanced stage chronic myeloid leukemia (CML). The aim of this study was to estimate the reversal effects of down-regulation of Na(+)/H(+) exchanger 1 (NHE1) on the chemoresistance of BCR-ABL-positive leukemia patients' cells and cell lines. After treatment with the specific NHE1 inhibitor cariporide to decrease intracellular pH (pHi), the heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1) levels of the K562R cell line and cells from IM-insensitive CML patients decreased. HO-1, as a Bcr/Abl-dependent survival molecule in CML cells, is important for the resistance to tyrosine kinase inhibitors in patients with newly diagnosed CML or IM-resistant CML. Silencing PKC-β and Nrf-2 or treatment with inhibitors of p38 pathways obviously blocked NHE1-induced HO-1 expression. Furthermore, treatment with HO-1 or p38 inhibitor plus IM increased the apoptosis of the K562R cell line and IM-insensitive CML patients' cells. Inhibiting HO-1 enhanced the activation of caspase-3 and poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase-1. Hence, the results support the anti-apoptotic role of HO-1 induced by NHE1 in the K562R cell line and IM-insensitive CML patients and provide a mechanism by which inducing HO-1 expression via the PKC-β/p38-MAPK pathway may promote tumor resistance to oxidative stress.

Liu YN, Yin J, Barrett B, et al.
Loss of Androgen-Regulated MicroRNA 1 Activates SRC and Promotes Prostate Cancer Bone Metastasis.
Mol Cell Biol. 2015; 35(11):1940-51 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/12/2015 Related Publications
Bone metastasis is the hallmark of progressive and castration-resistant prostate cancers. MicroRNA 1 (miR-1) levels are decreased in clinical samples of primary prostate cancer and further reduced in metastases. SRC has been implicated as a critical factor in bone metastasis, and here we show that SRC is a direct target of miR-1. In prostate cancer patient samples, miR-1 levels are inversely correlated with SRC expression and a SRC-dependent gene signature. Ectopic miR-1 expression inhibited extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) signaling and bone metastasis in a xenograft model. In contrast, SRC overexpression was sufficient to reconstitute bone metastasis and ERK signaling in cells expressing high levels of miR-1. Androgen receptor (AR) activity, defined by an AR output signature, is low in a portion of castration-resistant prostate cancer. We show that AR binds to the miR-1-2 regulatory region and regulates miR-1 transcription. Patients with low miR-1 levels displayed correlated low canonical AR gene signatures. Our data support the existence of an AR-miR-1-SRC regulatory network. We propose that loss of miR-1 is one mechanistic link between low canonical AR output and SRC-promoted metastatic phenotypes.

Shin M, Lee KE, Yang EG, et al.
PEA-15 facilitates EGFR dephosphorylation via ERK sequestration at increased ER-PM contacts in TNBC cells.
FEBS Lett. 2015; 589(9):1033-9 [PubMed] Related Publications
Phosphoprotein enriched in astrocytes of 15 kDa (PEA-15) is known to sequester extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) in the cytoplasm, inhibiting tumorigenesis of human breast cancer cells. Here, we describe how PEA-15 expression affects the dephosphorylation of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) through endoplasmic reticulum (ER)-plasma membrane (PM) contacts in MDA-MB-468, triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) cells. The increased intracellular calcium concentration resulting from increased cytoplasmic phosphorylated ERK facilitates movement of ER-anchored calcium sensors to the PM. The driving force of trans-localization of calcium-dependent proteins enhances the contact between the activated EGFR and ER-localized phosphatase, PTP1B. Consequently, our findings suggest a mechanism underneath the facilitation of EGFR dephosphorylation by cytoplasmic PEA-15 expression inside TNBC cells, which may be one of the dynamic mechanisms for down-regulation of activated EGFR in cancer cells.

Kumar A, Pathak P, Purkait S, et al.
Oncogenic KIAA1549-BRAF fusion with activation of the MAPK/ERK pathway in pediatric oligodendrogliomas.
Cancer Genet. 2015; 208(3):91-5 [PubMed] Related Publications
Pediatric oligodendrogliomas (pODGs) are rare central nervous system tumors, and comparatively little is known about their molecular pathogenesis. Co-deletion of 1p/19q; and IDH1, CIC, and FUBP1 mutations, which are molecular signatures of adult oligodendrogliomas, are extremely rare in pODGs. In this report, two pODGs, one each of grade II and grade III, were evaluated using clinical, radiological, histopathologic, and follow-up methods. IDH1, TP53, CIC, H3F3A, and BRAF-V600 E mutations were analyzed by Sanger sequencing and immunohistochemical methods, and 1p/19q co-deletion was analyzed by fluorescence in situ hybridization. PDGFRA amplification, BRAF gain, intragenic duplication of FGFR-TKD, and KIAA1549-BRAF fusion (validated by Sanger sequencing) were analyzed by real-time reverse transcription PCR. Notably, both cases showed the oncogenic KIAA1549_Ex15-BRAF_Ex9 fusion transcript. Further, immunohistochemical analysis showed activation of the MAPK/ERK pathway in both of these cases. However, neither 1p/19q co-deletion; IDH1, TP53, CIC, H3F3A, nor BRAF-V600 E mutation; PDGFRA amplification; BRAF gain; nor duplication of FGFR-TKD was identified. Overall, this study highlights that pODGs can harbor the KIAA1549-BRAF fusion with aberrant MAPK/ERK signaling, and there exists an option of targeting these pathways in such patients. These results indicate that pODGs with the KIAA1549-BRAF fusion may represent a subset of this rare tumor that shares molecular and genetic features of pilocytic astrocytomas. These findings will increase our understanding of pODGs and may have clinical implications.

Liu ZM, Tseng HY, Cheng YL, et al.
TG-interacting factor transcriptionally induced by AKT/FOXO3A is a negative regulator that antagonizes arsenic trioxide-induced cancer cell apoptosis.
Toxicol Appl Pharmacol. 2015; 285(1):41-50 [PubMed] Related Publications
Arsenic trioxide (ATO) is a multi-target drug approved by the Food and Drug Administration as the first-line chemotherapeutic agent for the treatment of acute promyelocytic leukemia. In addition, several clinical trials are being conducted with arsenic-based drugs for the treatment of other hematological malignancies and solid tumors. However, ATO's modest clinical efficacy on some cancers, and potential toxic effects on humans have been reported. Determining how best to reduce these adverse effects while increasing its therapeutic efficacy is obviously a critical issue. Previously, we demonstrated that the JNK-induced complex formation of phosphorylated c-Jun and TG-interacting factor (TGIF) antagonizes ERK-induced cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor CDKN1A (p21(WAF1/CIP1)) expression and resultant apoptosis in response to ATO in A431 cells. Surprisingly, at low-concentrations (0.1-0.2 μM), ATO increased cellular proliferation, migration and invasion, involving TGIF expression, however, at high-concentrations (5-20 μM), ATO induced cell apoptosis. Using a promoter analysis, TGIF was transcriptionally regulated by ATO at the FOXO3A binding site (-1486 to -1479bp) via the c-Src/EGFR/AKT pathway. Stable overexpression of TGIF promoted advancing the cell cycle into the S phase, and attenuated 20 μM ATO-induced apoptosis. Furthermore, blockage of the AKT pathway enhanced ATO-induced CDKN1A expression and resultant apoptosis in cancer cells, but overexpression of AKT1 inhibited CDKN1A expression. Therefore, we suggest that TGIF is transcriptionally regulated by the c-Src/EGFR/AKT pathway, which plays a role as a negative regulator in antagonizing ATO-induced CDKN1A expression and resultant apoptosis. Suppression of these antagonistic effects might be a promising therapeutic strategy toward improving clinical efficacy of ATO.

Kim HR, Lee HN, Lim K, et al.
15-Deoxy-Δ12,14-prostaglandin J2 induces expression of 15-hydroxyprostaglandin dehydrogenase through Elk-1 activation in human breast cancer MDA-MB-231 cells.
Mutat Res. 2014; 768:6-15 [PubMed] Related Publications
Overproduction of prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) has been reported to be implicated in carcinogenesis. The intracellular level of PGE2 is maintained not only by its biosynthesis, but also by inactivation/degradation. 15-Hydroxyprostaglandin dehydrogenase (15-PGDH) is the key enzyme that catalyzes the conversion of oncogenic PGE2 to a biologically inactive keto metabolite. In the present study, we demonstrate that 15-deoxy-Δ(12,14)-prostaglandin J2 (15 d-PGJ2), one of the terminal products of cyclooxygenase-2, updregulates the expression and the activity of 15-PGDH in human breast cancer MDA-MB-231 cells. By using deletion constructs of the 15-PGDH promoter, we have found that E-twenty six (Ets) is the most essential determinant for 15-PGDH induction. 15 d-PGJ2 induced phosphorylation of Elk-1, one of Ets transcription factor family members, in the nucleus. Knockdown of Elk-1 abolished the ability of 15 d-PGJ2 to upregulate 15-PGDH expression. Furthermore, 15 d-PGJ2-mediated activation of Elk-1 was found to be dependent on activation of extracellular-signal related kinase (ERK) 1/2. Treatment of U0126, a pharmacological inhibitor of MEK1/2-ERK, abolished phosphorylation and DNA binding of Elk-1 as well as 15-PGDH induction in 15 d-PGJ2-treated MDA-MB-231 cells. Moreover, 15 d-PGJ2 generated reactive oxygen species (ROS), which contribute to the expression of 15-PGDH as well as phosphorylation of ERK1/2 and Elk-1. 15 d-PGJ2 inhibited the migration of MDA-MB-231 cells, which was attenuated by transient transfection with 15-PGDH siRNA. Taken together, these findings suggest that 15 d-PGJ2 induces the expression of 15-PGDH through ROS-mediated activation of ERK1/2 and subsequently Elk-1 in the MDA-MB-231 cells, which may contribute to tumor suppressive activity of this cyclopentenone prostaglandin.

Ji L, Xu J, Liu J, et al.
Mutant p53 promotes tumor cell malignancy by both positive and negative regulation of the transforming growth factor β (TGF-β) pathway.
J Biol Chem. 2015; 290(18):11729-40 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/05/2016 Related Publications
Specific p53 mutations abrogate tumor-suppressive functions by gaining new abilities to promote tumorigenesis. Inactivation of p53 is known to distort TGF-β signaling, which paradoxically displays both tumor-suppressive and pro-oncogenic functions. The molecular mechanisms of how mutant p53 simultaneously antagonizes the tumor-suppressive and synergizes the tumor-promoting function of the TGF-β pathway remain elusive. Here we demonstrate that mutant p53 differentially regulates subsets of TGF-β target genes by enhanced binding to the MH2 domain in Smad3 upon the integration of ERK signaling, therefore disrupting Smad3/Smad4 complex formation. Silencing Smad2, inhibition of ERK, or introducing a phosphorylation-defective mutation at Ser-392 in p53 abrogates the R175H mutant p53-dependent regulation of these TGF-β target genes. Our study shows a mechanism to reconcile the seemingly contradictory observations that mutant p53 can both attenuate and cooperate with the TGF-β pathway to promote cancer cell malignancy in the same cell type.

Jeong HJ, Koo BS, Kang TH, et al.
Inhibitory effects of Saururus chinensis and its components on stomach cancer cells.
Phytomedicine. 2015; 22(2):256-61 [PubMed] Related Publications
Saururus chinensis (SC) Baill. (Saururaceae), a perennial herb commonly called Chinese lizard's tail or Sam-baekcho in Korea, has been used in the treatment of edema, gonorrhea, jaundice, and inflammatory diseases. Recently, several reports have been commissioned to examine the anti-cancer activities of this plant. In this study, we evaluated the inhibitory activity and mechanism of action on SC and its components against stomach cancer cells. SC extracts displayed cytotoxic effects on AGS cells in a dose-dependent manner. Moreover, SC increased the number of annexin V-positive apoptotic bodies and phosphorylated JNK and p38 in AGS cells. SC also down-regulated anti-apoptotic (Bcl-2) genes and up-regulated apoptotic (Bax) genes in AGS cells. We further confirmed that caspase activation plays an important role in SC-induced apoptosis in AGS cells. Furthermore, we examined erythro-Austrobailignan-6 and meso-dihydroguaiaretic acid, major active constituents of SC, which induced apoptosis in both the AGS and NCI-N87 stomach cancer cell lines. Taken together, our data provide the evidence that SC and its components induce apoptosis in stomach cancer cells, making it a potential candidate as a chemotherapeutic drug.

Liu N, Chen T, Wang X, et al.
Msi1 confers resistance to TRAIL by activating ERK in liver cancer cells.
FEBS Lett. 2015; 589(8):897-903 [PubMed] Related Publications
To investigate TRAIL resistance mechanisms in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), we isolated a stable TRAIL-resistant sub-population of the HCC cell line LH86, designated LH86-TR. Differential activation of AKT was not responsible for acquisition of TRAIL resistance. Cells with both congenital and acquired resistance to TRAIL exhibited increased Msi1 expression, which conferred TRAIL resistance by activating ERK. Forced expression of Msi1 decreased the sensitivity of HCC cells to TRAIL both in vitro and in vivo. Conversely, shRNA-mediated depletion of Msi1 enhanced TRAIL efficacy. SiRNA-mediated depletion of ERK overcame TRAIL resistance. Hence, we conclude that Msi1 is a mediator of TRAIL resistance in HCC cells.

Guo F, Liu X, Qing Q, et al.
EML4-ALK induces epithelial-mesenchymal transition consistent with cancer stem cell properties in H1299 non-small cell lung cancer cells.
Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2015; 459(3):398-404 [PubMed] Related Publications
The echinoderm microtubule-associated protein-like 4(EML4)--anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK) fusion gene has been identified as a driver mutation in non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC). However, the role of EML4-ALK in malignant transformation is not entirely clear. Here, for the first time, we showed that H1299 NSCLC cells stably expressing EML4-ALK acquire EMT phenotype, associated with enhanced invasive migration and increased expression of EMT-inducing transcription factors. H1299-EML4-ALK cells also displayed cancer stem cell-like properties with a concomitant up-regulation of CD133 and enhanced ability of mammospheres formation. Moreover, we found that inhibition of ERK1/2 reversed EMT induced by EML4-ALK in H1299 cells. Taken together, these results suggested that EML4-ALK induced ERK activation is mechanistically associated with EMT phenotype. Thus, inhibition of ERK signaling pathway could be a potential strategy in treatment of NSCLC patients with EML4-ALK translocation.

Urakawa N, Utsunomiya S, Nishio M, et al.
GDF15 derived from both tumor-associated macrophages and esophageal squamous cell carcinomas contributes to tumor progression via Akt and Erk pathways.
Lab Invest. 2015; 95(5):491-503 [PubMed] Related Publications
Tumor-associated macrophages (TAMs) are known to be involved in the progression, angiogenesis, and motility of various cancers. We previously reported the association between an increased number of infiltrating TAMs with tumor progression and poor prognosis in esophageal squamous cell carcinomas (ESCCs). To study the roles of TAMs in ESCC, we first exposed peripheral blood monocyte (PBMo)-derived macrophages from healthy volunteers to conditioned media of TE series human ESCC cell line (TECM) and confirmed the induction of the expression of the M2 macrophage marker CD204 and the protumorigenic factors interleukin (IL)-10, VEGFA, and MMPs. Next, we compared gene expression profiles between PBMo-derived macrophages stimulated with or without TECM by cDNA microarray and focused on growth differentiation factor 15 (GDF15) among the highly expressed genes including IL-6, IL-8, and CXCL1. Our immunohistochemical study of 70 surgically resected ESCCs revealed that GDF15 was present not only in cancer cells but also in macrophages. The high expression of GDF15 in the ESCCs was significantly correlated with several more malignant phenotypes including vessel invasion, lymph node metastasis, and clinical stages. Patients with high GDF15 expression showed significantly poorer disease-free survival (P=0.011) and overall survival (P=0.041). We also found that recombinant human GDF15 promotes cell proliferation and the phosphorylation of both Akt and Erk1/2 in ESCC cell lines in vitro. These results indicate that GDF15 is secreted by both TAMs and cancer cells in the tumor microenvironment and is associated with aberrant growth and a poor prognosis in human ESCC.

Yang Y, Cheon S, Jung MK, et al.
Interleukin-18 enhances breast cancer cell migration via down-regulation of claudin-12 and induction of the p38 MAPK pathway.
Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2015; 459(3):379-86 [PubMed] Related Publications
Interleukin-18 (IL-18) was recently reported to have a pro-tumor effect in various cancers. Increased IL-18 levels in the serum of cancer patients correlated with malignancy, and IL-18 acts a crucial factor for cell migration in gastric cancer and melanoma. Claudins, which are the most important tight junction proteins, are also linked with cancer progression and metastasis. However, the relationship between claudins and IL-18 is not well-understood. Here, we show that the migratory ability of MCF-7 cells was reduced when endogenous IL-18 expression was inhibited with IL-18 siRNA. Moreover, exogenous IL-18 enhanced breast cancer cell migration and suppressed the expression of the tight junction proteins claudin-1, claudin-3, claudin-4, and claudin-12 in MCF-7 cells. Knockdown of claudin-3, claudin-4, and claudin-12, but not claudin-1, increased breast cancer migration with maximal effects observed in claudin-12 siRNA-transfected cells. To investigate whether the mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) signaling pathway is involved in IL-18-induced cell migration and claudin-12 expression, cells were pretreated with SB203580 (an inhibitor of p38 MAPK) or PD98059 (an inhibitor of ERK1/2) prior to the addition of IL-18. Although pretreatment of MCF-7 cells with SB203580 blocked both the enhanced cell migration and the decreased claudin-12 expression, PD98059 only blocked cell migration and did not affect claudin-12 expression. In addition, exogenous IL-18 induced rapid phosphorylation of p38 MAPK. These results suggest that IL-18 is an important factor inducing breast cancer cell migration through down-regulation of claudin-12 and activation of the p38 MAPK pathway.

Lee JC, Chung LC, Chen YJ, et al.
Upregulation of B-cell translocation gene 2 by epigallocatechin-3-gallate via p38 and ERK signaling blocks cell proliferation in human oral squamous cell carcinoma cells.
Cancer Lett. 2015; 360(2):310-8 [PubMed] Related Publications
Oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC) is a well-known malignancy that accounts for the majority of oral cancers. B-cell translocation gene 2 (BTG2) is an important regulator of cell cycle dynamics in cancer cells. However, the role of BTG2 in OSCC cells and the influences of epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) on BTG2 gene expressions have not been well evaluated. The objectives of this study were to examine the effect of EGCG-induced BTG2 expression and the potential signal pathways involved. The (3)H-thymidine incorporation and Western-blot assays revealed cell proliferation was attenuated by EGCG via upregulation of BTG2 expression causing cell cycle G1 phase arrest in OSCC cells. BTG2 overexpression decreased tumor cell growth, while BTG2 knockdown illuminated the opposite effect in xenograft animal studies. Overexpressed BTG2 arrested the cell cycle at the G1 phase and downregulated protein expressions of cyclin A, cyclin D, and cyclin E. Western-blot assays indicated that EGCG induced phosphorylation of p38, JNK, and ERK. However, pretreatments with selective mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) inhibitors, SB203580 (p38 inhibitor) and PD0325901 (ERK1/2 inhibitor), significantly suppressed the activation of EGCG on BTG2 expression. Our results indicate that EGCG attenuates cell proliferation of OSCC cells by upregulating BTG2 expression via p38 and ERK pathways.

Drasin DJ, Guarnieri AL, Neelakantan D, et al.
TWIST1-Induced miR-424 Reversibly Drives Mesenchymal Programming while Inhibiting Tumor Initiation.
Cancer Res. 2015; 75(9):1908-21 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/05/2016 Related Publications
Epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) is a dynamic process that relies on cellular plasticity. Recently, the process of an oncogenic EMT, followed by a reverse mesenchymal-to-epithelial transition (MET), has been implicated as critical in the metastatic colonization of carcinomas. Unlike governance of epithelial programming, regulation of mesenchymal programming is not well understood in EMT. Here, we describe and characterize the first microRNA that enhances exclusively mesenchymal programming. We demonstrate that miR-424 is upregulated early during a TWIST1 or SNAI1-induced EMT, and that it causes cells to express mesenchymal genes without affecting epithelial genes, resulting in a mixed/intermediate EMT. Furthermore, miR-424 increases motility, decreases adhesion, and induces a growth arrest, changes associated with a complete EMT that can be reversed when miR-424 expression is lowered, concomitant with an MET-like process. Breast cancer patient miR-424 levels positively associate with TWIST1/2 and EMT-like gene signatures, and miR-424 is increased in primary tumors versus matched normal breast. However, miR-424 is downregulated in patient metastases versus matched primary tumors. Correspondingly, miR-424 decreases tumor initiation and is posttranscriptionally downregulated in macrometastases in mice, suggesting the need for biphasic expression of miR-424 to transit the EMT-MET axis. Next-generation RNA sequencing revealed miR-424 regulates numerous EMT and cancer stemness-associated genes, including TGFBR3, whose downregulation promotes mesenchymal phenotypes, but not tumor-initiating phenotypes. Instead, we demonstrate that increased MAPK-ERK signaling is critical for miR-424-mediated decreases in tumor-initiating phenotypes. These findings suggest miR-424 plays distinct roles in tumor progression, potentially facilitating earlier, but repressing later, stages of metastasis by regulating an EMT-MET axis.

Tavallai M, Hamed HA, Roberts JL, et al.
Nexavar/Stivarga and viagra interact to kill tumor cells.
J Cell Physiol. 2015; 230(9):2281-98 [PubMed] Related Publications
We determined whether the multi-kinase inhibitor sorafenib or its derivative regorafenib interacted with phosphodiesterase 5 (PDE5) inhibitors such as Viagra (sildenafil) to kill tumor cells. PDE5 and PDGFRα/β were over-expressed in liver tumors compared to normal liver tissue. In multiple cell types in vitro sorafenib/regorafenib and PDE5 inhibitors interacted in a greater than additive fashion to cause tumor cell death, regardless of whether cells were grown in 10 or 100% human serum. Knock down of PDE5 or of PDGFRα/β recapitulated the effects of the individual drugs. The drug combination increased ROS/RNS levels that were causal in cell killing. Inhibition of CD95/FADD/caspase 8 signaling suppressed drug combination toxicity. Knock down of ULK-1, Beclin1, or ATG5 suppressed drug combination lethality. The drug combination inactivated ERK, AKT, p70 S6K, and mTOR and activated JNK. The drug combination also reduced mTOR protein expression. Activation of ERK or AKT was modestly protective whereas re-expression of an activated mTOR protein or inhibition of JNK signaling almost abolished drug combination toxicity. Sildenafil and sorafenib/regorafenib interacted in vivo to suppress xenograft tumor growth using liver and colon cancer cells. From multiplex assays on tumor tissue and plasma, we discovered that increased FGF levels and ERBB1 and AKT phosphorylation were biomarkers that were directly associated with lower levels of cell killing by 'rafenib + sildenafil. Our data are now being translated into the clinic for further determination as to whether this drug combination is a useful anti-tumor therapy for solid tumor patients.

Samadani R, Zhang J, Brophy A, et al.
Small-molecule inhibitors of ERK-mediated immediate early gene expression and proliferation of melanoma cells expressing mutated BRaf.
Biochem J. 2015; 467(3):425-38 [PubMed] Related Publications
Constitutive activation of the extracellular-signal-regulated kinases 1 and 2 (ERK1/2) are central to regulating the proliferation and survival of many cancer cells. The current inhibitors of ERK1/2 target ATP binding or the catalytic site and are therefore limited in their utility for elucidating the complex biological roles of ERK1/2 through its phosphorylation and regulation of over 100 substrate proteins. To overcome this limitation, a combination of computational and experimental methods was used to identify low-molecular-mass inhibitors that are intended to target ERK1/2 substrate-docking domains and selectively interfere with ERK1/2 regulation of substrate proteins. In the present study, we report the identification and characterization of compounds with a thienyl benzenesulfonate scaffold that were designed to inhibit ERK1/2 substrates containing an F-site or DEF (docking site for ERK, FXF) motif. Experimental evidence shows the compounds inhibit the expression of F-site containing immediate early genes (IEGs) of the Fos family, including c-Fos and Fra1, and transcriptional regulation of the activator protein-1 (AP-1) complex. Moreover, this class of compounds selectively induces apoptosis in melanoma cells containing mutated BRaf and constitutively active ERK1/2 signalling, including melanoma cells that are inherently resistant to clinically relevant kinase inhibitors. These findings represent the identification and initial characterization of a novel class of compounds that inhibit ERK1/2 signalling functions and their potential utility for elucidating ERK1/2 and other signalling events that control the growth and survival of cancer cells containing elevated ERK1/2 activity.

Fiocchetti M, Camilli G, Acconcia F, et al.
ERβ-dependent neuroglobin up-regulation impairs 17β-estradiol-induced apoptosis in DLD-1 colon cancer cells upon oxidative stress injury.
J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. 2015; 149:128-37 [PubMed] Related Publications
Besides other mechanism(s) 17β-estradiol (E2) facilitates neuronal survival by increasing, via estrogen receptor β (ERβ), the levels of neuroglobin (NGB) an anti-apoptotic protein. In contrast, E2 could exert protective effects in cancer cells by activating apoptosis when the ERβ level prevails on that of ERα as in colon cancer cell lines. These apparently contrasting results raise the possibility that E2-induced NGB up-regulation could regulate the ERβ activities shunning this receptor subtype to trigger an apoptotic cascade in neurons but not in non-neuronal cells. Here, human colorectal adenocarcinoma cell line (DLD-1) that only expresses ERβ and HeLa cells transiently transfected with ERβ encoding vector has been used to verify this hypothesis. In addition, neuroblastoma SK-N-BE cells were used as positive control. Surprisingly, E2 also induced NGB up-regulation, in a dose- and time-dependent manner, in DLD-1 cells. The ERβ-mediated activation of p38/MAPK was necessary for this E2 effect. E2 induced NGB re-allocation in mitochondria where, subsequently to an oxidative stress injury (i.e., 100μM H2O2), NGB interacted with cytochrome c preventing its release into the cytosol and the activation of an apoptotic cascade. As a whole, these results demonstrate that E2-induced NGB up-regulation could act as an oxidative stress sensor, which does not oppose to the pro-apoptotic E2 effect in ERβ-containing colon cancer cells unless a rise of oxidative stress occurs. These results support the concept that oxidative stress plays a critical role in E2-induced carcinogenesis and further open an important scenario to develop novel therapeutic strategies that target NGB against E2-related cancers.

Nolan KD, Franco OE, Hance MW, et al.
Tumor-secreted Hsp90 subverts polycomb function to drive prostate tumor growth and invasion.
J Biol Chem. 2015; 290(13):8271-82 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 27/03/2016 Related Publications
Prostate cancer remains the second highest contributor to male cancer-related lethality. The transition of a subset of tumors from indolent to invasive disease is associated with a poor clinical outcome. Activation of the epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT) genetic program is a major risk factor for cancer progression. We recently reported that secreted extracellular Hsp90 (eHsp90) initiates EMT in prostate cancer cells, coincident with its enhanced expression in mesenchymal models. Our current work substantially extended these findings in defining a pathway linking eHsp90 signaling to EZH2 function, a methyltransferase of the Polycomb repressor complex. EZH2 is also implicated in EMT activation, and its up-regulation represents one of the most frequent epigenetic alterations during prostate cancer progression. We have now highlighted a novel epigenetic function for eHsp90 via its modulation of EZH2 expression and activity. Mechanistically, eHsp90 initiated sustained activation of MEK/ERK, a signal critical for facilitating EZH2 transcriptional up-regulation and recruitment to the E-cadherin promoter. We further demonstrated that an eHsp90-EZH2 pathway orchestrates an expanded repertoire of EMT-related events including Snail and Twist expression, tumor cell motility, and anoikis resistance. To evaluate the role of eHsp90 in vivo, eHsp90 secretion was stably enforced in a prostate cancer cell line resembling indolent disease. Remarkably, eHsp90 was sufficient to induce tumor growth, suppress E-cadherin, and initiate localized invasion, events that are exquisitely dependent upon EZH2 function. In summary, our findings illuminate a hitherto unknown epigenetic function for eHsp90 and support a model wherein tumor eHsp90 functions as a rheostat for EZH2 expression and activity to orchestrate mesenchymal properties and coincident aggressive behavior.

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