RalA signaling pathway as a therapeutic target in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC).
ABSTRACT: Ral (Ras like) leads an important proto-oncogenic signaling pathway down-stream of Ras. In this work, RalA was found to be significantly overactivated in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) cells and tissues as compared to non-malignant samples. Other elements of RalA pathway such as RalBP1 and RalGDS were also expressed at higher levels in malignant samples. Inhibition of RalA by gene-specific silencing caused a robust decrease in the viability and invasiveness of HCC cells. Additionally, the use of geranyl-geranyl transferase inhibitor (GGTI, an inhibitor of Ral activation) and Aurora kinase inhibitor II resulted in a significant decrease in the proliferation of HCC cells. Furthermore, RalA activation was found to be at a higher level of activation in HCC stem cells that express CD133. Transgenic mouse model for HCC (FXR-Knockout) also revealed an elevated level of RalA-GTP in the liver tumors as compared to background animals. Finally, subcutaneous mouse model for HCC confirmed effectiveness of inhibition of aurora kinase/RalA pathway in reducing the tumorigenesis of HCC cells in vivo. In conclusion, RalA overactivation is an important determinant of malignant phenotype in differentiated and stem cells of HCC and can be considered as a target for therapeutic intervention.
Project description:Small GTPases of the Rho and Ras families are important regulators of Schwann cell biology. The Ras-like GTPases RalA and RalB act downstream of Ras in malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumors. However, the physiological role of Ral proteins in Schwann cell development is unknown. Using transgenic mice with ablation of one or both Ral genes, we report that Ral GTPases are crucial for axonal radial sorting. While lack of only one Ral GTPase was dispensable for early peripheral nerve development, ablation of both RalA and RalB resulted in persistent radial sorting defects, associated with hallmarks of deficits in Schwann cell process formation and maintenance. In agreement, ex vivo-cultured Ral-deficient Schwann cells were impaired in process extension and the formation of lamellipodia. Our data indicate further that RalA contributes to Schwann cell process extensions through the exocyst complex, a known effector of Ral GTPases, consistent with an exocyst-mediated function of Ral GTPases in Schwann cells.
Project description:BCR/ABL is a well-known activator of multiple signaling pathways. RalA, a Ras downstream signaling molecule and a small GTPase, plays an important role in Bcr-Abl-induced leukemogenesis but the exact mechanism remains elusive. Here, we show that RalA GTPase activity is commonly high in chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) cell lines and patient samples. Overexpression of RalA results in malignant transformation and progression, and induces resistance to imatinib (IM) in BaF3 and K562 cell lines. RalA reduced survival and led to IM resistance in a xenografted mouse model. Ablation of RalA by either siRNA or miR-181a, a RalA targeting microRNA, attenuated the malignant phenotypes in K562 cells. RBC8, a selective Ral inhibitor, enhanced the inhibitory effects of IM in K562, KCL22 and BaF3-P210 cells. Interestingly, the phospho-specific protein microarray assay revealed that multiple phosphorylation signal proteins were decreased by RalA inhibition, including SAPK, JNK, SRC, VEGFR2, P38 MAPK, c-Kit, JunB, and Keratin18. Among them, P38 MAPK and SAPK/JNK are Ras downstream signaling kinases. Taken together, RalA GTPase might be an important oncogene activating the Ras-related signaling pathway in CML.
Project description:Ras proteins activate Raf and PI-3 kinases, as well as exchange factors for RalA and RalB GTPases. Many previous studies have reported that the Ral-signaling cascade contributes positively to Ras-mediated oncogenesis. Here, using a bioengineered tissue model of early steps in Ras-induced human squamous cell carcinoma of the skin, we found the opposite. Conversion of Ras-expressing keratinocytes from a premalignant to malignant state induced by decreasing E-cadherin function was associated with and required an approximately two to threefold decrease in RalA expression. Moreover, direct knockdown of RalA to a similar degree by shRNA expression in these cells reduced E-cadherin levels and also induced progression to a malignant phenotype. Knockdown of the Ral effector, Exo84, mimicked the effects of decreasing RalA levels in these engineered tissues. These phenomena can be explained by our finding that the stability of E-cadherin in Ras-expressing keratinocytes depends upon this RalA signaling cascade. These results imply that an important component of the early stages in squamous carcinoma progression may be a modest decrease in RalA gene expression that magnifies the effects of decreased E-cadherin expression by promoting its degradation.
Project description:Ral (Ras-like) GTPases are directly activated by oncogenic Ras GTPases. Mutant K-Ras (G12C) has enabled the development of covalent K-Ras inhibitors currently in clinical trials. However, Ral, and the overwhelming majority of mutant oncogenic K-Ras, are devoid of a druggable pocket and lack an accessible cysteine for the development of a covalent inhibitor. Here, we report that covalent bond formation by an aryl sulfonyl fluoride electrophile at a tyrosine residue (Tyr-82) inhibits guanine exchange factor Rgl2-mediated nucleotide exchange of Ral GTPase. A high-resolution 1.18-Å X-ray cocrystal structure shows that the compound binds to a well-defined binding site in RalA as a result of a switch II loop conformational change. The structure, along with additional high-resolution crystal structures of several analogs in complex with RalA, confirm the importance of key hydrogen bond anchors between compound sulfone oxygen atoms and Ral backbone nitrogen atoms. Our discovery of a pocket with features found on known druggable sites and covalent modification of a bystander tyrosine residue present in Ral and Ras GTPases provide a strategy that could lead to therapeutic agent targeting oncogenic Ras mutants that are devoid of a cysteine nucleophile.
Project description:The high prevalence of KRAS mutations and importance of the RalGEF-Ral pathway downstream of activated K-ras in pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) emphasize the importance of identifying novel methods by which to therapeutically target these pathways. It was recently demonstrated that phosphorylation of RalA S194 by Aurora A kinase (AAK) is critical for PDAC tumorigenesis. We sought to evaluate the AAK-selective inhibitor MLN8237 as a potential indirect anti-RalA-targeted therapy for PDAC. We used a site-specific phospho-S194 RalA antibody and determined that RalA S194 phosphorylation levels were elevated in a subset of PDAC cell lines and human tumors relative to unmatched normal controls. Effects of MLN8237 on anchorage-independent growth in PDAC cell lines and growth of patient-derived xenografts (PDX) were variable, with a subset of cell lines and PDX showing sensitivity. Surprisingly, RalA S194 phosphorylation levels in PDAC cell lines or PDX tumors did not correlate with MLN8237 responsiveness. However, we identified Ki67 as a possible early predictive biomarker for response to MLN8237 in PDAC. These results indicate that MLN8237 treatment may be effective for a subset of patients with PDAC independent of RalA S194 phosphorylation. Ki67 may be an effective pharmacodynamic biomarker to identify response early in the course of treatment.
Project description:RalA, a member of the Ras-family GTPases, regulates various cellular functions such as filopodia formation, endocytosis, and exocytosis. On epidermal growth factor (EGF) stimulation, activated Ras recruits guanine nucleotide exchange factors (GEFs) for RalA, followed by RalA activation. By using fluorescence resonance energy transfer-based probes for RalA activity, we found that the EGF-induced RalA activation in Cos7 cells was restricted at the EGF-induced nascent lamellipodia, whereas under a similar condition both Ras activation and Ras-dependent translocation of Ral GEFs occurred more diffusely at the plasma membrane. This EGF-induced RalA activation was not observed when lamellipodial protrusion was suppressed by a dominant negative mutant of Rac1, a GTPase-activating protein for Cdc42, inhibitors of phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase, or inhibitors of actin polymerization. On the other hand, EGF-induced lamellipodial protrusion was inhibited by microinjection of the RalA-binding domains of RalBP1 and Sec5. Furthermore, we found that RalA activity was high at the lamellipodia of migrating Madin-Darby canine kidney cells and that the migration of Madin-Darby canine kidney cells was perturbed by the microinjection of RalBP1-RalA-binding domain. Thus, RalA activation is required for the induction of lamellipodia, and conversely, lamellipodial protrusion seems to be required for the RalA activation, suggesting the presence of a positive feedback loop between RalA activation and lamellipodial protrusion. Our observation also demonstrates that the spatial regulation of RalA is conducted by a mechanism distinct from the temporal regulation conducted by Ras-dependent plasma membrane recruitment of Ral guanine nucleotide exchange factors.
Project description:Integrin dependent regulation of growth factor signalling confers anchorage dependence that is deregulated in cancers. Downstream of integrins and oncogenic Ras the small GTPase Ral is a vital mediator of adhesion dependent trafficking and signalling. This study identifies a novel regulatory crosstalk between Ral and Arf6 that controls Ral function in cells. In re-adherent mouse fibroblasts (MEFs) integrin dependent activation of RalA drives Arf6 activation. Independent of adhesion constitutively active RalA and RalB could both however activate Arf6. This is further conserved in oncogenic H-Ras containing bladder cancer T24 cells, which express anchorage independent active Ral that supports Arf6 activation. Arf6 mediates active Ral-exocyst dependent delivery of raft microdomains to the plasma membrane that supports anchorage independent growth signalling. Accordingly in T24 cells the RalB-Arf6 crosstalk is seen to preferentially regulate anchorage independent Erk signalling. Active Ral we further find uses a Ral-RalBP1-ARNO-Arf6 pathway to mediate Arf6 activation. This study hence identifies Arf6, through this regulatory crosstalk, to be a key downstream mediator of Ral isoform function along adhesion dependent pathways in normal and cancer cells.
Project description:Ral GTPases are RAS effector molecules and by implication a potential therapeutic target for RAS mutant cancer. However, very little is known about their roles in stem cells and tissue homeostasis. Using Drosophila, we identified expression of RalA in intestinal stem cells (ISCs) and progenitor cells of the fly midgut. RalA was required within ISCs for efficient regeneration downstream of Wnt signaling. Within the murine intestine, genetic deletion of either mammalian ortholog, Rala or Ralb, reduced ISC function and Lgr5 positivity, drove hypersensitivity to Wnt inhibition, and impaired tissue regeneration following damage. Ablation of both genes resulted in rapid crypt death. Mechanistically, RALA and RALB were required for efficient internalization of the Wnt receptor Frizzled-7. Together, we identify a conserved role for RAL GTPases in the promotion of optimal Wnt signaling, which defines ISC number and regenerative potential.
Project description:The small GTPase Ras, which transmits extracellular signals to the cell, and the kinase Aurora-A, which promotes proper mitosis, can both be inappropriately activated in human tumors. Here, we show that Aurora-A in conjunction with oncogenic Ras enhances transformed cell growth. Furthermore, such transformation and in some cases also tumorigenesis depend upon S194 of RalA, a known Aurora-A phosphorylation site. Aurora-A promotes not only RalA activation but also translocation from the plasma membrane and activation of the effector protein RalBP1. Taken together, these data suggest that Aurora-A may converge upon oncogenic Ras signaling through RalA.
Project description:Ral proteins are members of the Ras superfamily of small GTPases and are involved in signalling pathways for actin cytoskeleton remodelling, cell cycle control, cellular transformation and vesicle transport. To identify novel RalA effector proteins, we used the reverse Ras recruitment system and found that RalA interacts with a Y-box transcription factor, ZO-1-associated nucleic acid-binding protein (ZONAB), in a GTP-dependent manner. The amount of the RalA-ZONAB complex increases as epithelial cells become more dense and increase cell contacts. The RalA-ZONAB interaction results in a relief of transcriptional repression of a ZONAB-regulated promoter. Additionally, expression of oncogenic Ras alleviates transcriptional repression by ZONAB in a RalA-dependent manner. The data presented here implicate the RalA/ZONAB interaction in the regulation of ZONAB function.