Disease-specific alteration of karyopherin-? subtype establishes feed-forward oncogenic signaling in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma.
ABSTRACT: Nuclear import, mediated in part by karyopherin-? (KPNA)/importin-? subtypes, regulates transcription factor access to the genome and determines cell fate. However, the cancer-specific changes of KPNA subtypes and the relevancy in cancer biology remain largely unknown. Here, we report that KPNA4, encoding karyopherin-?4 (KPNA4), is exclusively amplified and overexpressed in head and neck of squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC). Depletion of KPNA4 attenuated nuclear localization signal-dependent transport activity and suppressed malignant phenotypes and induced epidermal differentiation. Mechanistically, KPNA4-mediated nuclear transport of Ras-responsive element-binding protein (RREB1), which sustains Ras/ERK pathway signaling through repressing miR-143/145 expression. Notably, MAPK signaling enhanced trafficking activity of KPNA4 via phosphorylation of KPNA4 at Ser60. These data reveal that KPNA4 establishes a feed-forward cascade that potentiates Ras/ERK signaling in HNSCC.