An acquired scaffolding function of the DNAJ-PKAc fusion enhances oncogenesis in Fibrolamellar carcinoma
ABSTRACT: Fibrolamellar carcinoma (FLC) is a rare liver cancer. FLC tumors exclusively produce DNAJ-PKAc, a de novo chimeric enzyme consisting of a chaperonin-binding domain fused to the C subunit of protein kinase A. Biochemical analyses of clinical samples reveal that a unique property of DNAJ-PKAc is the ability to recruit heat shock protein 70 (Hsp70). This cellular chaperonin is frequently up-regulated in cancers. Gene-editing of mouse hepatocytes generated disease-relevant AML12DNAJ-PKAc cell lines. Drug-screening discovered Hsp70 and MEK inhibitor combinations that selectively block proliferation of AML12DNAJ-PKAc cells. Further analyses indicate that the proto-oncogene AKAP-Lbc is upregulated in FLC and functions to cluster DNAJ-PKAc/Hsp70 sub-complexes with a RAF-MEK-ERK kinase module. Phosphoproteomic profiling infers that DNAJ-PKAc biases the signaling landscape toward ERK activation and mobilizes other downstream kinase cascades. We propose that the oncogenic nature of DNAJ-PKAc proceeds through an acquired scaffolding function that permits recruitment of Hsp70 and stabilizes ERK signaling.
Project description:Fibrolamellar carcinoma (FLC) is a rare liver cancer. FLCs uniquely produce DNAJ-PKAc, a chimeric enzyme consisting of a chaperonin-binding domain fused to the C? subunit of protein kinase A. Biochemical analyses of clinical samples reveal that a unique property of this fusion enzyme is the ability to recruit heat shock protein 70 (Hsp70). This cellular chaperonin is frequently up-regulated in cancers. Gene-editing of mouse hepatocytes generated disease-relevant AML12DNAJ-PKAc cell lines. Further analyses indicate that the proto-oncogene A-kinase anchoring protein-Lbc is up-regulated in FLC and functions to cluster DNAJ-PKAc/Hsp70 sub-complexes with a RAF-MEK-ERK kinase module. Drug screening reveals Hsp70 and MEK inhibitor combinations that selectively block proliferation of AML12DNAJ-PKAc cells. Phosphoproteomic profiling demonstrates that DNAJ-PKAc biases the signaling landscape toward ERK activation and engages downstream kinase cascades. Thus, the oncogenic action of DNAJ-PKAc involves an acquired scaffolding function that permits recruitment of Hsp70 and mobilization of local ERK signaling.
Project description:Prevalent mutations in the mitogen-activated protein kinase 1 (MAPK1)/extracellular signal-regulated kinase 2 (ERK2) pathway have been identified in cervical squamous cell carcinoma in a large-scale genome sequencing effort. Furthermore, mutations in the rat sarcoma viral oncogene homolog (RAS)/Raf/Mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase (MEK)/extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) signaling pathway have also been revealed to have important roles in the pathogenesis of human cancer. However, whether the potential hotspot mutations in ERK2 and other components of the RAS/RAF/MEK/ERK signaling pathway also exist in Chinese patients with cervical carcinoma remains to be elucidated. In the present study, a total of 260 patients with cervical carcinoma of distinct subtypes were analyzed for the presence of potential hotspot mutations in the RAS/RAF/MEK/ERK signaling pathway. No ERK2 mutations were detected in these samples; however, Kirsten RAS (KRAS) p.G12D (c.35G>A) mutation was identified in 2/26 (7.7%) cervical adenocarcinoma cases, including 1/20 cervical mucinous adenocarcinoma and 1/6 cervical endometrioid carcinoma cases. In addition, no mutations in the ERK1, neuroblastoma RAS, Harvey RAS or B-Raf proto-oncogene serine/threonine kinase genes were detected in the present study. These results indicated that ethnic differences may be a primary reason for the discrepancy in ERK2 mutation frequencies between the current study and previous studies. Furthermore, mutation in the KRAS gene, but not other genes in the RAS/RAF/MEK/ERK signaling pathway, may have an active role in the pathogenesis of cervical carcinoma.
Project description:Mortalin [also known as heat shock protein family A (HSP70) member 9 (HSPA9) or glucose-regulated protein 75 (GRP75)] is a mitochondrial molecular chaperone that is often up-regulated and mislocalized in tumors with abnormal activation of the kinases MEK and ERK. Here, we found that mortalin depletion was selectively lethal to tumor and immortalized normal cells expressing the mutant kinase B-RafV600E or the chimeric protein ?Raf-1:ER and that MEK-ERK-sensitive regulation of the peptide-binding domain in mortalin was critical to cell survival or death. Proteomics screening identified adenine nucleotide translocase 3 (ANT3) as a previously unknown mortalin substrate and cell survival/death effector. Mechanistically, increased MEK-ERK signaling activity and mortalin function converged opposingly on the regulation of mitochondrial permeability. Specifically, whereas MEK-ERK activity increased mitochondrial permeability by promoting the interaction between ANT3 and the peptidyl-prolyl isomerase cyclophilin D (CypD), mortalin decreased mitochondrial permeability by inhibiting this interaction. Hence, mortalin depletion increased mitochondrial permeability in MEK-ERK-deregulated cells to an extent that triggered cell death. HSP70 inhibitor derivatives that effectively inhibited mortalin suppressed the proliferation of B-RafV600E tumor cells in culture and in vivo, including their B-Raf inhibitor-resistant progenies. These findings suggest that targeting mortalin has potential as a selective therapeutic strategy in B-Raf-mutant or MEK-ERK-driven tumors.
Project description:Dysregulated Raf/MEK/extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) signaling, a common hallmark of tumorigenesis, can trigger innate tumor-suppressive mechanisms, which must be inactivated for carcinogenesis to occur. This innate tumor-suppressive signaling may provide a potential therapeutic target. Here we report that mortalin (HSPA9/GRP75/PBP74) is a novel negative regulator of Raf/MEK/ERK and may provide a target for the reactivation of tumor-suppressive signaling of the pathway in cancer. We found that mortalin is present in the MEK1/MEK2 proteome and is upregulated in human melanoma biopsy specimens. In different MEK/ERK-activated cancer cell lines, mortalin depletion induced cell death and growth arrest, which was accompanied by increased p21(CIP1) transcription and MEK/ERK activity. Remarkably, MEK/ERK activity was necessary for mortalin depletion to induce p21(CIP1) expression in B-Raf(V600E)-transformed cancer cells regardless of their p53 status. In contrast, in cell types exhibiting normal MEK/ERK status, mortalin overexpression suppressed B-Raf(V600E)- or ?Raf-1:ER-induced MEK/ERK activation, p21(CIP1) expression, and cell cycle arrest. Other HSP70 family chaperones could not effectively replace mortalin for p21(CIP1) regulation, suggesting a unique role for mortalin. These findings reveal a novel mechanism underlying p21(CIP1) regulation in MEK/ERK-activated cancer and identify mortalin as a molecular switch that mediates the tumor-suppressive versus oncogenic result of dysregulated Raf/MEK/ERK signaling. Our study also demonstrates that p21(CIP1) has dual effects under mortalin-depleted conditions, i.e., mediating cell cycle arrest while limiting cell death.
Project description:The epidermal growth factor (EGF)-ErbB-mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) transcription signaling pathway is altered in many types of carcinomas, and this pathway can be regulated by new protein-protein interactions. Vaccinia-related kinase (VRK) proteins are Ser-Thr kinases that regulate several signal transduction pathways. In this work, we study the effect of VRK2 on MAPK signaling using breast cancer as a model. High levels of VRK2 inhibit EGF and ErbB2 activation of transcription by the serum response element (SRE). This effect is also detected in response to H-Ras(G12V) or B-Raf(V600E) oncogenes and is accompanied by a reduction in phosphorylated extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) levels, p90RSK levels, and SRE-dependent transcription. Furthermore, VRK2 knockdown has the opposite effect, increasing the transcriptional response to stimulation with EGF and leading to increased levels of ERK phosphorylation. The molecular mechanism lies between MAPK/ERK kinase (MEK) and ERK, since MEK remains phosphorylated while ERK phosphorylation is blocked by VRK2A. This inhibition of the ERK signaling pathway is a consequence of a direct protein-protein interaction between VRK2A, MEK, and kinase suppressor of Ras 1 (KSR1). Identification of new correlations in human cancer can lead to a better understanding of the biology of individual tumors. ErbB2 and VRK2 protein levels were inversely correlated in 136 cases of human breast carcinoma. In ErbB2(+) tumors, there is a significant reduction in the VRK2 level, suggesting a role for VRK2A in ErbB2-MAPK signaling. Thus, VRK2 downregulation in carcinomas permits signal transmission through the MEK-ERK pathway without affecting AKT signaling, causing a signal imbalance among pathways that contributes to the phenotype of breast cancer.
Project description:Medullary thyroid carcinoma (MTC) is a neuroendocrine tumor mainly caused by mutations in the rearranged during transfection (RET) proto-oncogene. For therapy of advanced MTC, the Food and Drug Administration recently approved vandetanib and cabozantinib, the tyrosine kinase inhibitors targeting RET, vascular endothelial growth factor receptor, epidermal growth factor receptor and/or c-MET. Nevertheless, not all patients respond to these drugs, demanding additional therapeutic strategies. We found that mortalin (HSPA9/GRP75), a member of HSP70 family, is upregulated in human MTC tissues and that its depletion robustly induces cell death and growth arrest in MTC cell lines in culture and in mouse xenografts. These effects were accompanied by substantial downregulation of RET, induction of the tumor-suppressor TP53 and altered expression of cell cycle regulatory machinery and apoptosis markers, including E2F-1, p21(CIP1), p27(KIP1) and Bcl-2 family proteins. Our investigation of the molecular mechanisms underlying these effects revealed that mortalin depletion induces transient MEK/ERK (extracellular signal-regulated kinase) activation and altered mitochondrial bioenergetics in MTC cells, as indicated by depolarized mitochondrial membrane, decreased oxygen consumption and extracellular acidification and increased oxidative stress. Intriguingly, mortalin depletion induced growth arrest partly via the MEK/ERK pathway, whereas it induced cell death by causing mitochondrial dysfunction in a Bcl-2-dependent manner. However, TP53 was not necessary for these effects except for p21(CIP1) induction. Moreover, mortalin depletion downregulated RET expression independently of MEK/ERK and TP53. These data demonstrate that mortalin is a key regulator of multiple signaling and metabolic pathways pivotal to MTC cell survival and proliferation, proposing mortalin as a novel therapeutic target for MTC.
Project description:The clinical experience with BCR-ABL tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKI) for the treatment of chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) provides compelling evidence for oncogene addiction. Yet, the molecular basis of oncogene addiction remains elusive. Through unbiased quantitative phosphoproteomic analyses of CML cells transiently exposed to BCR-ABL TKI, we identified persistent downregulation of growth factor receptor (GF-R) signaling pathways. We then established and validated a tissue-relevant isogenic model of BCR-ABL-mediated addiction, and found evidence for myeloid GF-R signaling pathway rewiring that profoundly and persistently dampens physiologic pathway activation. We demonstrate that eventual restoration of ligand-mediated GF-R pathway activation is insufficient to fully rescue cells from a competing apoptotic fate. In contrast to previous work with BRAF(V600E) in melanoma cells, feedback inhibition following BCR-ABL TKI treatment is markedly prolonged, extending beyond the time required to initiate apoptosis. Mechanistically, BCR-ABL-mediated oncogene addiction is facilitated by persistent high levels of MAP-ERK kinase (MEK)-dependent negative feedback.We found that BCR–ABL can confer addiction in vitro by rewiring myeloid GF-R signaling through establishment of MEK-dependent negative feedback. Our findings predict that deeper, more durable responses to targeted agents across a range of malignancies may be facilitated by maintaining negative feedback concurrently with oncoprotein inhibition.
Project description:Activating mutations in the neuroblastoma rat sarcoma viral oncogene homolog (NRAS) gene are common genetic events in malignant melanoma being found in 15-25% of cases. NRAS is thought to activate both mitogen activated protein kinase (MAPK) and PI3K signaling in melanoma cells. We studied the influence of different components on the MAP/extracellular signal-regulated (ERK) kinase (MEK) and PI3K/mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR)-signaling cascade in NRAS mutant melanoma cells. In general, these cells were more sensitive to MEK inhibition compared with inhibition in the PI3K/mTOR cascade. Combined targeting of MEK and PI3K was superior to MEK and mTOR1,2 inhibition in all NRAS mutant melanoma cell lines tested, suggesting that PI3K signaling is more important for cell survival in NRAS mutant melanoma when MEK is inhibited. However, targeting of PI3K/mTOR1,2 in combination with MEK inhibitors is necessary to effectively abolish growth of NRAS mutant melanoma cells in vitro and regress xenografted NRAS mutant melanoma. Furthermore, we showed that MEK and PI3K/mTOR1,2 inhibition is synergistic. Expression analysis confirms that combined MEK and PI3K/mTOR1,2 inhibition predominantly influences genes in the rat sarcoma (RAS) pathway and growth factor receptor pathways, which signal through MEK/ERK and PI3K/mTOR, respectively. Our results suggest that combined targeting of the MEK/ERK and PI3K/mTOR pathways has antitumor activity and might serve as a therapeutic option in the treatment of NRAS mutant melanoma, for which there are currently no effective therapies.
Project description:The Raf/MEK/ERK and PI3K/Akt pathways are prominent effectors of oncogenic Ras. These pathways negatively regulate each other, but the mechanism involved is incompletely understood. We now identify MEK1 as an essential regulator of lipid/protein phosphatase PTEN, through which it controls phosphatidylinositol-3-phosphate accumulation and AKT signaling. MEK1 ablation stabilizes AKT activation and, in vivo, causes a lupus-like autoimmune disease and myeloproliferation. Mechanistically, MEK1 is necessary for PTEN membrane recruitment as part of a ternary complex containing the multidomain adaptor MAGI1. Complex formation is independent of MEK1 kinase activity but requires phosphorylation of T292 on MEK1 by activated ERK. Thus, inhibiting the ERK pathway reduces PTEN membrane recruitment, increasing phosphatidylinositol-3-phosphate accumulation and AKT activation. Our data offer a conceptual framework for the observation that activation of the PI3K pathway frequently mediate resistance to MEK inhibitors and for the promising results obtained by combined MEK/PI3K inhibition in preclinical cancer models.
Project description:Chronic and juvenile myelomonocytic leukemias (CMML and JMML) are aggressive myeloproliferative neoplasms that are incurable with conventional chemotherapy. Mutations that deregulate Ras signaling play a central pathogenic role in both disorders, and Mx1-Cre, Kras(LSL-G12D) mice that express the Kras oncogene develop a fatal disease that closely mimics these two leukemias in humans. Activated Ras controls multiple downstream effectors, but the specific pathways that mediate the leukemogenic effects of hyperactive Ras are unknown. We used PD0325901, a highly selective pharmacological inhibitor of mitogen-activated or extracellular signal-regulated protein kinase kinase (MEK), a downstream component of the Ras signaling network, to address how deregulated Raf/MEK/ERK (extracellular signal-regulated kinase) signaling drives neoplasia in Mx1-Cre, Kras(LSL-G12D) mice. PD0325901 treatment induced a rapid and sustained reduction in leukocyte counts, enhanced erythropoiesis, prolonged mouse survival, and corrected the aberrant proliferation and differentiation of bone marrow progenitor cells. These responses were due to direct effects of PD0325901 on Kras mutant cells rather than to stimulation of normal hematopoietic cell proliferation. Consistent with the in vivo response, inhibition of MEK reversed the cytokine hypersensitivity characteristic of Kras(G12D) hematopoietic progenitor cells in vitro. Our data demonstrate that deregulated Raf/MEK/ERK signaling is integral to the growth of Kras-mediated myeloproliferative neoplasms and further suggest that MEK inhibition could be a useful way to ameliorate functional hematologic abnormalities in patients with CMML and JMML.