ABSTRACT: Merlin (Moesin-ezrin-radixin-like protein, also known as schwannomin) is a tumor suppressor protein encoded by the neurofibromatosis type 2 gene NF2. Loss of function mutations or deletions in NF2 cause neurofibromatosis type 2 (NF2), a multiple tumor forming disease of the nervous system. NF2 is characterized by the development of bilateral vestibular schwannomas. Patients with NF2 can also develop schwannomas on other cranial and peripheral nerves, as well as meningiomas and ependymomas. The only potential treatment is surgery/radiosurgery, which often results in loss of function of the involved nerve. There is an urgent need for chemotherapies that slow or eliminate tumors and prevent their formation in NF2 patients. Interestingly NF2 mutations and merlin inactivation also occur in spontaneous schwannomas and meningiomas, as well as other types of cancer including mesothelioma, glioma multiforme, breast, colorectal, skin, clear cell renal cell carcinoma, hepatic and prostate cancer. Except for malignant mesotheliomas, the role of NF2 mutation or inactivation has not received much attention in cancer, and NF2 might be relevant for prognosis and future chemotherapeutic approaches. This review discusses the influence of merlin loss of function in NF2-related tumors and common human cancers. We also discuss the NF2 gene status and merlin signaling pathways affected in the different tumor types and the molecular mechanisms that lead to tumorigenesis, progression and pharmacological resistance.
Project description:Neurofibromatosis 2 (NF2) is an inherited cancer syndrome in which affected individuals develop nervous system tumors, including schwannomas, meningiomas, and ependymomas. The NF2 protein merlin (or schwannomin) is a member of the Band 4.1 superfamily of proteins, which serve as linkers between transmembrane proteins and the actin cytoskeleton. In addition to mutational inactivation of the NF2 gene in NF2-associated tumors, mutations and loss of merlin expression have also been reported in other types of cancers. In the present study, we show that merlin expression is dramatically reduced in human malignant gliomas and that reexpression of functional merlin dramatically inhibits both subcutaneous and intracranial growth of human glioma cells in mice. We further show that merlin reexpression inhibits glioma cell proliferation and promotes apoptosis in vivo. Using microarray analysis, we identify altered expression of specific molecules that play key roles in cell proliferation, survival, and motility. These merlin-induced changes of gene expression were confirmed by real-time quantitative PCR, Western blotting, and functional assays. These results indicate that reexpression of merlin correlates with activation of mammalian sterile 20-like 1/2-large tumor suppressor 2 signaling pathway and inhibition of canonical and noncanonical Wnt signals. Collectively, our results show that merlin is a potent inhibitor of high-grade human glioma.
Project description:Patients diagnosed with neurofibromatosis type 2 (NF2) are extremely likely to develop meningiomas, in addition to vestibular schwannomas. Meningiomas are a common primary brain tumor; many NF2 patients suffer from multiple meningiomas. In NF2, patients have mutations in the <i>NF2</i> gene, specifically with loss of function in a tumor-suppressor protein that has a number of synonymous names, including: Merlin, Neurofibromin 2, and schwannomin. Merlin is a 70 kDa protein that has 10 different isoforms. The Hippo Tumor Suppressor pathway is regulated upstream by Merlin. This pathway is critical in regulating cell proliferation and apoptosis, characteristics that are important for tumor progression. Mutations of the NF2 gene are strongly associated with NF2 diagnosis, leading to benign proliferative conditions such as vestibular schwannomas and meningiomas. Unfortunately, even though these tumors are benign, they are associated with significant morbidity and the potential for early mortality. In this review, we aim to encompass meningiomas and vestibular schwannomas as they pertain to NF2 by assessing molecular genetics, common tumor types, and tumor pathogenesis.
Project description:Mutations in the NF2 gene cause Neurofibromatosis Type 2 (NF2), a disorder characterized by the development of schwannomas, meningiomas and ependymomas in the nervous system. Merlin, a tumor suppressor encoded by the NF2 gene, modulates activity of many essential signaling pathways. Yet despite increasing knowledge of merlin function, there are no NF2 drug therapies. In a pilot high-throughput screen of the Library of Pharmacologically Active Compounds, we assayed for compounds capable of reducing viability of mouse Schwann cells (MSC) with Nf2 inactivation as a cellular model for human NF2 schwannomas. AGK2, a SIRT2 (sirtuin 2) inhibitor, was identified as a candidate compound. SIRT2 is one of seven mammalian sirtuins that are NAD+-dependent protein deacetylases. We show that merlin-mutant MSC have higher expression levels of SIRT2 and lower levels of overall lysine acetylation than wild-type control MSC. Pharmacological inhibition of SIRT2 decreases merlin-mutant MSC viability in a dose dependent manner without substantially reducing wild-type MSC viability. Inhibition of SIRT2 activity in merlin-mutant MSC is accompanied by release of lactate dehydrogenase and high mobility group box 1 protein into the medium in the absence of significant apoptosis, autophagy, or cell cycle arrest. These findings suggest that SIRT2 inhibition triggers necrosis of merlin-mutant MSCs and that SIRT2 is a potential NF2 drug target.
Project description:Inactivating mutations of the neurofibromatosis 2 (NF2) gene, NF2, result predominantly in benign neurological tumors, schwannomas and meningiomas, in humans; however, mutations in murine Nf2 lead to a broad spectrum of cancerous tumors. The tumor-suppressive function of the NF2 protein, merlin, a membrane-cytoskeleton linker, remains unclear. Here, we identify the mammalian target of rapamycin complex 1 (mTORC1) as a novel mediator of merlin's tumor suppressor activity. Merlin-deficient human meningioma cells and merlin knockdown arachnoidal cells, the nonneoplastic cell counterparts of meningiomas, exhibit rapamycin-sensitive constitutive mTORC1 activation and increased growth. NF2 patient tumors and Nf2-deficient mouse embryonic fibroblasts demonstrate elevated mTORC1 signaling. Conversely, the exogenous expression of wild-type merlin isoforms, but not a patient-derived L64P mutant, suppresses mTORC1 signaling. Merlin does not regulate mTORC1 via the established mechanism of phosphoinositide 3-kinase-Akt or mitogen-activated protein kinase/extracellular signal-regulated kinase-mediated TSC2 inactivation and may instead regulate TSC/mTOR signaling in a novel fashion. In conclusion, the deregulation of mTORC1 activation underlies the aberrant growth and proliferation of NF2-associated tumors and may restrain the growth of these lesions through negative feedback mechanisms, suggesting that rapamycin in combination with phosphoinositide 3-kinase inhibitors may be therapeutic for NF2.
Project description:Mutations in the Neurofibromatosis 2 gene (NF2) predispose to tumors of the nervous system, mainly schwannomas and meningiomas. The NF2 gene encodes for the tumor suppressor protein merlin (moesin-ezrin-radixin-like protein), which functions as a linker between the plasma membrane and the cytoskeleton. Carboxyterminal phosphorylation affects merlin activity, but many open questions on the regulation of merlin function still remain. The phosphoinositide 3-kinase/Akt pathway is activated in human vestibular schwannoma, suggesting a role for Akt-dependent merlin regulation in the formation of these tumors. In this study, we identify merlin serine 10 as a novel substrate for Akt phosphorylation. We demonstrate that this N-terminal phosphorylation directs merlin for proteasome-mediated degradation and affects merlin binding to the E3 ligase component DCAF1. Our data indicate that sequential phosphorylation of merlin C- and N-terminus by different oncogenic kinases targets merlin for degradation and thus downregulates its activity. On the basis of these findings, we propose a model for a posttranslational mechanism of merlin inactivation.
Project description:The neurofibromatosis type 2 (NF2) protein, known as schwannomin or merlin, is a tumor suppressor involved in NF2-associated and sporadic schwannomas and meningiomas. It is closely related to the ezrin-radixin-moesin family members, implicated in linking membrane proteins to the cytoskeleton. The molecular mechanism allowing schwannomin to function as a tumor suppressor is unknown. In attempt to shed light on schwannomin function, we have identified a novel coiled-coil protein, SCHIP-1, that specifically associates with schwannomin in vitro and in vivo. Within its coiled-coil region, this protein is homologous to human FEZ proteins and the related Caenorhabditis elegans gene product UNC-76. Immunofluorescent staining of transiently transfected cells shows a partial colocalization of SCHIP-1 and schwannomin, beneath the cytoplasmic membrane. Surprisingly, immunoprecipitation assays reveal that in a cellular context, association with SCHIP-1 can be observed only with some naturally occurring mutants of schwannomin, or a schwannomin spliced isoform lacking exons 2 and 3, but not with the schwannomin isoform exhibiting growth-suppressive activity. Our observations suggest that SCHIP-1 interaction with schwannomin is regulated by conformational changes in schwannomin, possibly induced by posttranslational modifications, alternative splicing, or mutations.
Project description:Neurofibromatosis type 2 is an inherited neoplastic disease consisting of schwannomas, meningiomas, and ependymomas that is caused by inactivation of the tumor suppressor gene NF2. The NF2 gene product, merlin, has no intrinsic catalytic activity; its tumor suppressor function is mediated through the proteins with which it interacts. However, there is no consensus about which merlin interactions are necessary for tumor suppression. We used proximity biotinylation followed by mass spectrometry and direct binding assays to characterize the proteins that associate with merlin and merlin mutants in immortalized Schwann cells. We identified 52 proteins that associate with merlin, including a previously unreported merlin binding protein, ASPP2. Our results identify merlin as a component of mechanosensing signal transduction pathways in cell junctions, in the context of a specific set of structures and molecules through which it acts, in a cell type relevant to schwannoma formation.
Project description:Neurofibromatosis type 2 [NF2; MIM # 101000] is an autosomal dominant disorder characterised by the occurrence of vestibular schwannomas (VSs), schwannomas of other cranial, spinal and cutaneous nerves, cranial and spinal meningiomas and/or other central nervous system (CNS) tumours (e.g., ependymomas, astrocytomas). Additional features include early onset cataracts, optic nerve sheath meningiomas, retinal hamartomas, dermal schwannomas (i.e., NF2-plaques), and (few) café-au-lait spots. Clinically, NF2 children fall into two main groups: (1) congenital NF2 - with bilateral VSs detected as early as the first days to months of life, which can be stable/asymptomatic for one-two decades and suddenly progress; and (2) severe pre-pubertal (Wishart type) NF2- with multiple (and rapidly progressive) CNS tumours other-than-VS, which usually present first, years before VSs [vs. the classical adult (Gardner type) NF2, with bilateral VSs presenting in young adulthood, sometimes as the only disease feature]. Some individuals can develop unilateral VS associated with ipsilateral meningiomas or multiple schwannomas localised to one part of the peripheral nervous system [i.e., mosaic NF2] or multiple non-VS, non-intradermal cranial, spinal and peripheral schwannomas (histologically proven) [schwannomatosis]. NF2 is caused by mutations in the NF2 gene at chromosome 22q12.1, which encodes for a protein called merlin or schwannomin, most similar to the exrin-readixin-moesin (ERM) proteins; mosaicNF2 is due to mosaic phenomena for the NF2 gene, whilst schwannomatosis is caused by coupled germ-line and mosaic mutations either in the SMARCB1 gene [SWNTS1; MIM # 162091] or the LZTR1 gene [SWNTS2; MIM # 615670] both falling within the 22q region and the NF2 gene. Data driven from in vitro and animal studies on the merlin pathway [e.g., post-translational and upstream/downstream regulation] allowed biologically targeted treatment strategies [e.g., Lapatinib, Erlotinib, Bevacizumab] aimed to multiple tumour shrinkage and/or regression and tumour arrest of progression with functional improvement.
Project description:The NF2 gene encodes a tumor suppressor protein known as merlin or schwannomin whose loss of function causes Neurofibromatosis Type 2 (NF2). NF2 is characterized by the development of benign tumors, predominantly schwannomas, in the peripheral nervous system. Merlin links plasma membrane receptors with the actin cytoskeleton and its targeting to the plasma membrane depends on direct binding to the paxillin scaffold protein. Exon 2 of NF2, an exon mutated in NF2 patients and deleted in a mouse model of NF2, encodes the merlin paxillin binding domain (PBD1). Here, we sought to determine the role of PBD1 in regulation of merlin stability and association with plasma membrane receptors and the actin cytoskeleton in Schwann cells. Using a fluorescence-based pulse-chase technique, we measured the half-life of Halo-tagged merlin variants carrying PBD1, exon 2, and exons 2 and 3 deletions in transiently transfected Schwann cells. We found that PBD1 alone was necessary and sufficient to increase merlin's half-life from approximately three to eleven hours. Merlin lacking PBD1 did not form a complex with surface ?1 integrins or associate with the actin cytoskeleton. In addition, direct binding studies using purified merlin and paxillin domains revealed that merlin directly binds paxillin LD3 (leucine-aspartate 3) domain as well as the LD4 and LD5 domains. Together these results demonstrate that a direct interaction between merlin PBD1 and the paxillin LD3-5 domains targets merlin to the plasma membrane where it is stabilized by its association with surface ?1 integrins and cortical actin.