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Validation of the p21-activated kinases as targets for inhibition in neurofibromatosis type 2.

ABSTRACT: Neurofibromatosis type 2 (NF2) is a dominantly inherited cancer disorder caused by mutations at the NF2 gene locus. Merlin, the protein product of the NF2 gene, has been shown to negatively regulate Rac1 signaling by inhibiting its downstream effector kinases, the p21-activated kinases (Pak). Given the implication of Paks in tumorigenesis, it is plausible that merlin's tumor suppressive function might be mediated, at least in part, via inhibition of the Paks. We present data indicating this is indeed the case. First, analysis of primary schwannoma samples derived from NF2 patients showed that in a significant fraction of the tumors, the activity of Pak1 was highly elevated. Second, we used shRNAs to knockdown Pak1, 2, and 3 in NIH3T3 cells expressing a dominant-negative form of merlin, NF2(BBA) (NIH3T3/NF2(BBA)), and find that simultaneous knockdown of Pak1-3 in these cells significantly reduced their growth rates in vitro and inhibited their ability to form tumors in vivo. Finally, while attempting to silence Pak1 in rat schwannoma cells, we found that these cells were unable to tolerate long-term Pak1 inhibition and rapidly moved to restore Pak1 levels by shutting down Pak1 shRNA expression through a methylation-dependent mechanism. These data suggest that inhibiting Pak could be a beneficial approach for the development of therapeutics toward NF2. In addition, the finding that the shRNA-mediated Pak1 suppression was silenced rapidly by methylation raises questions about the future application of such technologies for the treatment of diseases such as cancer.

PROVIDER: S-EPMC2707059 | BioStudies |

REPOSITORIES: biostudies

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