Epithelial-mesenchymal transition of ovarian cancer cells is sustained by Rac1 through simultaneous activation of MEK1/2 and Src signaling pathways.
ABSTRACT: Epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) is regarded as a crucial contributing factor to cancer progression. Diverse factors have been identified as potent EMT inducers in ovarian cancer. However, molecular mechanism sustaining EMT of ovarian cancer cells remains elusive. Here we show that the presence of SOS1/EPS8/ABI1 complex is critical for sustained EMT traits of ovarian cancer cells. Consistent with the role of SOS1/EPS8/ABI1 complex as a Rac1-specific guanine nucleotide exchange factor, depleting Rac1 results in the loss of most of mesenchymal traits in mesenchymal-like ovarian cancer cells, whereas expressing constitutively active Rac1 leads to EMT in epithelial-like ovarian cancer cells. With the aid of clinically tested inhibitors targeting various EMT-associated signaling pathways, we show that only combined treatment of mitogen-activated extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1/2 (MEK1/2) and Src inhibitors can abolish constitutively active Rac1-led EMT and mesenchymal traits displayed by mesenchymal-like ovarian cancer cells. Further experiments also reveal that EMT can be induced in epithelial-like ovarian cancer cells by co-expressing constitutively active MEK1 and Src rather than either alone. As the activities of Erk and Src are higher in ovarian cancer cells with constitutively active Rac1, we conclude that Rac1 sustains ovarian cancer cell EMT through simultaneous activation of MEK1/2 and Src signaling pathways. Importantly, we demonstrate that combined use of MEK1/2 and Src inhibitors effectively suppresses development of intraperitoneal xenografts and prolongs the survival of ovarian cancer-bearing mice. This study suggests that cocktail of MEK1/2 and Src inhibitors represents an effective therapeutic strategy against ovarian cancer progression.
Project description:Ovarian cancer is mainly confined in peritoneal cavity and its metastasis is often associated with the formation of malignant ascites. As lysophosphatidic acid (LPA) is present at high levels in ascites of ovarian cancer patients and potently stimulates cell migration, we reason that LPA-stimulated cell migration may play an important role in ovarian cancer metastasis. Here, we show that only ovarian cancer cell lines with LPA migratory response undergo peritoneal metastatic colonization. LPA-stimulated cell migration is required for metastatic colonization because knockdown of LPA receptor subtype 1 (LPAR(1)) abolishes this event. However, the difference in metastatic potentials is not caused by the absence of LPAR(1) because both metastatic and nonmetastatic lines express similar levels of LPAR(1). Instead, we find that LPA can activate Rac only in metastatic cells and that metastatic colonization of ovarian cancer cells necessitates Rac activity. These results thus suggest that LPA-induced Rac activation is a prerequisite for ovarian cancer metastasis. In metastatic cells, Rac activation is facilitated by SOS1/EPS8/ABI1 tri-complex and the integrity of this tri-complex is essential for LPA-stimulated cell migration and metastatic colonization. We show that at least 1 member of SOS1/EPS8/ABI1 tri-complex is absent in nonmetastatic ovarian cancer cells and reexpressing the missing one conferred them with metastatic capability. Importantly, coexpression of SOS1, EPS8, and ABI1, but not of any individual member of SOS1/EPS8/ABI1 tri-complex, correlates with advanced stages and shorter survival of ovarian cancer patients. Our study implicates that the integrity of SOS1/EPS8/ABI1 tri-complex is a determinant of ovarian cancer metastasis.
Project description:Cell migration in 3D microenvironments is fundamental to development, homeostasis and the pathobiology of diseases such as cancer. Rab-coupling protein (RCP) dependent co-trafficking of ?5?1 and EGFR1 promotes cancer cell invasion into fibronectin (FN) containing extracellular matrix (ECM), by potentiating EGFR1 signalling at the front of invasive cells. This promotes a switch in RhoGTPase signalling to inhibit Rac1 and activate a RhoA-ROCK-Formin homology domain-containing 3 (FHOD3) pathway and generate filopodial actin-spike protrusions which drive invasion. To further understand the signalling network that drives RCP-driven invasive migration, we generated a Boolean logical model based on existing network pathways/models, where each node can be interrogated by computational simulation. The model predicted an unanticipated feedback loop, whereby Raf/MEK/ERK signalling maintains suppression of Rac1 by inhibiting the Rac-activating Sos1-Eps8-Abi1 complex, allowing RhoA activity to predominate in invasive protrusions. MEK inhibition was sufficient to promote lamellipodia formation and oppose filopodial actin-spike formation, and led to activation of Rac and inactivation of RhoA at the leading edge of cells moving in 3D matrix. Furthermore, MEK inhibition abrogated RCP/?5?1/EGFR1-driven invasive migration. However, upon knockdown of Eps8 (to suppress the Sos1-Abi1-Eps8 complex), MEK inhibition had no effect on RhoGTPase activity and did not oppose invasive migration, suggesting that MEK-ERK signalling suppresses the Rac-activating Sos1-Abi1-Eps8 complex to maintain RhoA activity and promote filopodial actin-spike formation and invasive migration. Our study highlights the predictive potential of mathematical modelling approaches, and demonstrates that a simple intervention (MEK-inhibition) could be of therapeutic benefit in preventing invasive migration and metastasis.
Project description:Epithelial to Mesenchymal Transition (EMT) has been associated with cancer cell heterogeneity, plasticity and metastasis. It has been the subject of several modeling effort. This logical model of the EMT cellular network aims to assess microenvironmental signals controlling cancer-associated phenotypes amid the EMT continuum. Its outcomes relate to the qualitative degrees of cell adhesions by adherent junctions and focal adhesions, two features affected during EMT. Model attractors recover epithelial, mesenchymal and hybrid phenotypes, and simulations show that hybrid phenotypes may arise through independent molecular paths, involving stringent extrinsic signals.
Of particular interest, model predictions and their experimental validations indicated that: 1) ECM stiffening is a prerequisite for cells overactivating FAK-SRC to upregulate SNAIL1 and acquire a mesenchymal phenotype, and 2) FAK-SRC inhibition of cell-cell contacts through the Receptor Protein Tyrosine Phosphates kappa leads to the acquisition of a full mesenchymal rather than a hybrid phenotype.
Project description:The epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) is an embryonic program frequently reactivated during cancer progression and is implicated in cancer invasion and metastasis. Cancer cells can also acquire stem cell properties to self-renew and give rise to new tumors through the EMT. Inactivation of the tumor suppressor PTEN has been shown to induce the EMT, but the underlying molecular mechanisms are less understood. In this study, we reconstituted PTEN-deficient breast cancer cells with wild-type and mutant PTEN, demonstrating that restoration of PTEN expression converted cancer cells with mesenchymal traits to an epithelial phenotype and inhibited cancer stem cell (CSC) activity. The protein rather than the lipid phosphatase activity of PTEN accounts for the reversal of the EMT. PTEN dephosphorylates and downregulates Abi1 in breast cancer cells. Gain- and loss-of-function analysis indicates that upregulation of Abi1 mediates PTEN loss-induced EMT and CSC activity. These results suggest that PTEN may suppress breast cancer invasion and metastasis via dephosphorylating and downregulating Abi1.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Prostate cancer development involves various mechanisms, which are poorly understood but pointing to epithelial mesenchymal transition (EMT) as the key mechanism in progression to metastatic disease. ABI1, a member of WAVE complex and actin cytoskeleton regulator and adaptor protein, acts as tumor suppressor in prostate cancer but the role of ABI1 in EMT is not clear. METHODS:To investigate the molecular mechanism by which loss of ABI1 contributes to tumor progression, we disrupted the ABI1 gene in the benign prostate epithelial RWPE-1 cell line and determined its phenotype. Levels of ABI1 expression in prostate organoid tumor cell lines was evaluated by Western blotting and RNA sequencing. ABI1 expression and its association with prostate tumor grade was evaluated in a TMA cohort of 505 patients and metastatic cell lines. RESULTS:Low ABI1 expression is associated with biochemical recurrence, metastasis and death (p =?0.038). Moreover, ABI1 expression was significantly decreased in Gleason pattern 5 vs. pattern 4 (p =?0.0025) and 3 (p =?0.0012), indicating an association between low ABI1 expression and highly invasive prostate tumors. Disruption of ABI1 gene in RWPE-1 cell line resulted in gain of an invasive phenotype, which was characterized by a loss of cell-cell adhesion markers and increased migratory ability of RWPE-1 spheroids. Through RNA sequencing and protein expression analysis, we discovered that ABI1 loss leads to activation of non-canonical WNT signaling and EMT pathways, which are rescued by re-expression of ABI1. Furthermore, an increase in STAT3 phosphorylation upon ABI1 inactivation and the evidence of a high-affinity interaction between the FYN SH2 domain and ABI1 pY421 support a model in which ABI1 acts as a gatekeeper of non-canonical WNT-EMT pathway activation downstream of the FZD2 receptor. CONCLUSIONS:ABI1 controls prostate tumor progression and epithelial plasticity through regulation of EMT-WNT pathway. Here we discovered that ABI1 inhibits EMT through suppressing FYN-STAT3 activation downstream from non-canonical WNT signaling thus providing a novel mechanism of prostate tumor suppression.
Project description:Class I phosphoinositide 3-kinases (PI3Ks) are implicated in many cellular responses controlled by receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs), including actin cytoskeletal remodeling. Within this pathway, Rac is a key downstream target/effector of PI3K. However, how the signal is routed from PI3K to Rac is unclear. One possible candidate for this function is the Rac-activating complex Eps8-Abi1-Sos-1, which possesses Rac-specific guanine nucleotide exchange factor (GEF) activity. Here, we show that Abi1 (also known as E3b1) recruits PI3K, via p85, into a multimolecular signaling complex that includes Eps8 and Sos-1. The recruitment of p85 to the Eps8-Abi1-Sos-1 complex and phosphatidylinositol 3, 4, 5 phosphate (PIP3), the catalytic product of PI3K, concur to unmask its Rac-GEF activity in vitro. Moreover, they are indispensable for the activation of Rac and Rac-dependent actin remodeling in vivo. On growth factor stimulation, endogenous p85 and Abi1 consistently colocalize into membrane ruffles, and cells lacking p85 fail to support Abi1-dependent Rac activation. Our results define a mechanism whereby propagation of signals, originating from RTKs or Ras and leading to actin reorganization, is controlled by direct physical interaction between PI3K and a Rac-specific GEF complex.
Project description:Epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) is a critical process for embryogenesis but is abnormally activated during cancer metastasis and recurrence. This process enables epithelial cancer cells to acquire mobility and traits associated with stemness. It is unknown whether epithelial stem cells or epithelial cancer stem cells are able to undergo EMT, and what molecular mechanism regulates this process in these specific cell types. We found that epithelial-ovarian cancer stem cells (EOC stem cells) are the source of metastatic progenitor cells through a differentiation process involving EMT and mesenchymal-epithelial transition (MET). We demonstrate both in vivo and in vitro the differentiation of EOC stem cells into mesenchymal spheroid-forming cells (MSFCs) and their capacity to initiate an active carcinomatosis. Furthermore, we demonstrate that human EOC stem cells injected intraperitoneally in mice are able to form ovarian tumors, suggesting that the EOC stem cells have the ability to 'home' to the ovaries and establish tumors. Most interestingly, we found that TWIST-1 is constitutively degraded in EOC stem cells, and that the acquisition of TWIST-1 requires additional signals that will trigger the differentiation process. These findings are relevant for understanding the differentiation and metastasis process in EOC stem cells.
Project description:Eps8 controls actin dynamics directly through its barbed end capping and actin-bundling activity, and indirectly by regulating Rac-activation when engaged into a trimeric complex with Eps8-Abi1-Sos1. Recently, Eps8 has been associated with promotion of various solid malignancies, but neither its mechanisms of action nor its regulation in cancer cells have been elucidated. Here, we report a novel association of Eps8 with the late endosomal/lysosomal compartment, which is independent from actin polymerization and specifically occurs in cancer cells. Endogenous Eps8 localized to large vesicular lysosomal structures in metastatic pancreatic cancer cell lines, such as AsPC-1 and Capan-1 that display high Eps8 levels. Additionally, ectopic expression of Eps8 increased the size of lysosomes. Structure-function analysis revealed that the region encompassing the amino acids 184-535 of Eps8 was sufficient to mediate lysosomal recruitment. Notably, this fragment harbors two KFERQ-like motifs required for chaperone-mediated autophagy (CMA). Furthermore, Eps8 co-immunoprecipitated with Hsc70 and LAMP-2, which are key elements for the CMA degradative pathway. Consistently, in vitro, a significant fraction of Eps8 bound to (11.9+/-5.1%) and was incorporated into (5.3+/-6.5%) lysosomes. Additionally, Eps8 binding to lysosomes was competed by other known CMA-substrates. Fluorescence recovery after photobleaching revealed that Eps8 recruitment to the lysosomal membrane was highly dynamic. Collectively, these results indicate that Eps8 in certain human cancer cells specifically localizes to lysosomes, and is directed to CMA. These results open a new field for the investigation of how Eps8 is regulated and contributes to tumor promotion in human cancers.
Project description:Sos-1, a guanine nucleotide exchange factor (GEF), eps8 and Abi1, two signaling proteins, and the lipid kinase phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3-K), assemble in a multimolecular complex required for Rac activation leading to actin cytoskeletal remodeling. Consistently, eps8 -/- fibroblasts fail to form membrane ruffles in response to growth factor stimulation. Surprisingly, eps8 null mice are healthy, fertile, and display no overt phenotype, suggesting the existence of functional redundancy within this pathway. Here, we describe the identification and characterization of a family of eps8-related proteins, comprising three novel gene products, named eps8L1, eps8L2, and eps8L3. Eps8Ls display collinear topology and 27-42% identity to eps8. Similarly to eps8, eps8Ls interact with Abi1 and Sos-1; however, only eps8L1 and eps8L2 activate the Rac-GEF activity of Sos-1, and bind to actin in vivo. Consistently, eps8L1 and eps8L2, but not eps8L3, localize to PDGF-induced, F-actin-rich ruffles and restore receptor tyrosine kinase (RTK)-mediated actin remodeling when expressed in eps8 -/- fibroblasts. Thus, the eps8Ls define a novel family of proteins responsible for functional redundancy in the RTK-activated signaling pathway leading to actin remodeling. Finally, the patterns of expression of eps8 and eps8L2 in mice are remarkably overlapping, thus providing a likely explanation for the lack of overt phenotype in eps8 null mice.