Profilin-1 (Pfn1), a ubiquitously expressed actin-binding protein, has been regarded as a tumor-suppressor molecule for breast cancer. Since AKT signaling impacts cell survival and proliferation, in this study we investigated whether AKT activation in breast cancer cells is sensitive to perturbation of Pfn1 expression. We found that even a moderate overexpression of Pfn1 leads to a significant reduction in phosphorylation of AKT in MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cells. We further demonstrated that Pfn1 over-expression in MDA-MB-231 cells is associated with a significant reduction in the level of the phosphoinositide regulator of AKT, PIP3, and impaired membrane translocation of AKT that is required for AKT activation, in response to EGF stimulation. Interestingly, Pfn1-overexpressing cells showed post-transcriptional upregulation of PTEN. Furthermore, when PTEN expression was silenced, AKT phosphorylation was rescued, suggesting PTEN upregulation is responsible for Pfn1-dependent attenuation of AKT activation in MDA-MB-231 cells. Pfn1 overexpression induced PTEN upregulation and reduced AKT activation were also reproducible features of BT474 breast cancer cells. These findings may provide mechanistic insights underlying at least some of the tumor-suppressive properties of Pfn1.
Profilin-1; breast cancer; PIP3; AKT; PTEN; MDA-MB-231; BT-474
Growth factor-induced activation of Akt occursin the majority of human breast cancer cell lines resulting in a variety of cellular outcomes, including suppression of apoptosis and enhanced survival. We demonstrate that epidermal growth factor (EGF)-initiated activation of Akt is mediated by the ubiquitous calcium sensing molecule, calmodulin, in the majority of human breast cancer cell lines. Specifically, in estrogen receptor (ER)-negative, but not ER-positive, breast cancer cells, Akt activation is abolished by treatment with the calmodulin antagonist, W-7. Suppression of calmodulin expression by siRNAs against all three calmodulin genes in c-Myc-overexpressing mouse mammary carcinoma cells results in significant inhibition of EGF-induced Akt activation. Additionally, transient expression of constitutively active Akt (Myr-Akt) can overcome W-7-mediated suppression of Akt activation. These results confirm the involvement of calmodulin in the Akt pathway. The calmodulin independence of EGF-initiated Akt signaling in some cells was not explained by calmodulin expression level. Additionally, it was not explained by ER status or activation, since removal of estrogen and ablation of the ER did not convert the ERpositive, W-7 insensitive, MCF-7 cell line to calmodulin dependent signaling. However, forced overexpression of either epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) or ErbB2 did partially restore calmodulin dependent EGF-stimulated Akt activation. This is consistent with observation that W-7 sensitive cells tend to be estrogen independent and express high levels of EGFR family members. In an attempt to address how calmodulin is regulating Akt activity, we looked at localization of fluorescently tagged Akt and calmodulin in MCF-7 and SK-BR-3 cells. We found that both Akt and calmodulin translocate to the membrane after EGFstimulation, and this translocation to the same sub-cellular compartment is inhibited by the calmodulin inhibitor W-7. Thus, calmodulin may be regulating Akt activity by modulating its sub-cellular location and is a novel target in the poor prognosis, ER-negative subset of breast cancers.
Akt; Calmodulin; Estrogen receptor; EGFR; ErbB2
The breast cancer susceptibility gene 1 (Brca1) has a key role in both hereditary and sporadic mammary tumorigenesis. However, the reasons why Brca1-deficiency leads to the development of cancer are not clearly understood. Activation of Akt kinase is one of the most common molecular alterations associated with human malignancy. Increased Akt kinase activity has been reported in most breast cancers. We previously found that downregulation of Brca1 expression or mutations of the Brca1 gene activate the Akt oncogenic pathway. To further investigate the role of Brca1/Akt in tumorigenesis, we analyzed Brca1/Akt expression in human breast cancer samples and found that reduced expression of Brca1 was highly correlated with increased phosphorylation of Akt. Consistent with the clinical data, knockdown of Akt1 by short-hairpin RNA inhibited cellular proliferation of Brca1 mutant cells. Importantly, depletion of Akt1 significantly reduced tumor formation induced by Brca1-deficiency in mice. The third generation inhibitor of mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR), Palomid 529, significantly suppressed Brca1-deficient tumor growth in mice through inhibition of both Akt and mTOR signaling. Our results indicate that activation of Akt is involved in Brca1-deficiency mediated tumorigenesis and that the mTOR pathway can be used as a novel target for treatment of Brca1-deficient cancers.
Brca1; PKB/Akt; mTOR
TMEPAI is a TGF-β-induced transmembrane protein that is overexpressed in several cancers. How TMEPAI expression relates to malignancy is unknown. Here we report high expression of TMEPAI in ER/PR-negative and HER2-negative breast cancer cell lines and primary breast cancers that was further increased by TGF-β treatment. Basal and TGF-β-induced expression of TMEPAI was inhibited by the TGF-β receptor antagonist SB431542 and overexpression of Smad7 or a dominant negative mutant of Alk-5. TMEPAI knockdown attenuated TGF-β-induced growth and motility in breast cancer cells, suggesting a role for TMEPAI in growth promotion and invasiveness. Further, TMEPAI knockdown decreased breast tumor mass in a mouse xenograft model in a manner associated with increased expression of PTEN and diminished phosphorylation of Akt. Consistent with effects via the PI3K pathway, tumors with TMEPAI knockdown exhibited elevated levels of the cell cycle inhibitor p27kip1 and attenuated levels of DNA replication and expression of HIF-1α and VEGF. Together, these results suggest that TMEPAI functions in breast cancer as a molecular switch that converts TGF-β from a tumor suppressive to a tumor promoting role.
Prediction of therapeutic response and cancer patient survival can be improved by the identification of molecular markers including tumor Akt status. A direct correlation between NOS2 expression and elevated Akt phosphorylation status has been observed in breast tumors. Tissue inhibitor matrix metalloproteinase-1 (TIMP-1) has been proposed to exert oncogenic properties through CD63 cell surface receptor pathway initiation of pro-survival PI3k/Akt signaling. We employed immunohistochemistry to examine the influence of TIMP-1 on the functional relationship between NOS2 and phosphorylated Akt in breast tumors and found that NOS2-associated Akt phosphorylation was significantly increased in tumors expressing high TIMP-1, indicating that TIMP-1 may further enhance NO-induced Akt pathway activation. Moreover, TIMP-1 silencing by antisense technology blocked NO-induced PI3k/Akt/BAD phosphorylation in cultured MDA-MB-231 human breast cancer cells. TIMP-1 protein nitration and TIMP-1/CD63 co-immunoprecipitation was observed at NO concentrations that induced PI3k/Akt/BAD pro-survival signaling. In the survival analysis, elevated tumor TIMP-1 predicted poor patient survival. This association appears to be mainly restricted to tumors with high NOS2 protein. In contrast, TIMP-1 did not predict poor survival in patient tumors with low NOS2 expression. In summary, our findings suggest that tumors with high TIMP-1 and NOS2 behave more aggressively by mechanisms that favor Akt pathway activation.
Survivin expression in melanoma is inversely correlated with patient survival. Transgenic mice harboring melanocyte-specific overexpression of survivin exhibit increased susceptibility to UV-induced melanoma and metastatic progression. To understand the mechanistic basis for metastatic progression, we investigated the effects of Survivin on the motility of human melanocytes and melanoma cells. We found that Survivin overexpression enhanced migration on fibronectin and invasion through Matrigel, whereas Survivin knockdown under sub-apoptotic conditions blocked migration and invasion. In melanocytes, Survivin overexpression activated the Akt and MAPK pathways. Akt phosphorylation was required for Survivin-enhanced migration and invasion, whereas Erk phosphorylation was required only for enhanced invasion. In both melanocytes and melanoma cells, Survivin overexpression was associated with upregulation of α5 integrin (fibronectin receptor component), the antibody-mediated blockade or siRNA targeting of which blocked Survivin-enhanced migration. Knockdown of α5 integrin did not affect Akt activation, but inhibition of Akt phosphorylation prevented α5 integrin upregulation elicited by Survivin overexpression. Together, our results showed that Survivin enhanced the migration and invasion of melanocytic cells and suggested that Survivin may promote melanoma metastasis by supporting Akt-dependent upregulation of α5 integrin.
Survivin; migration; invasion; melanoma; α5 integrin
The Akt kinase signaling pathway is frequently deregulated in many human diseases including cancer, autoimmune disease and diabetes. In nephropathy, associated with diabetes, increased Akt signal transduction results in glomerular especially mesangial cell hypertrophy. The mechanism of Akt activation by elevated glucose is poorly understood. The oncogene DJ-1 prevents oxidative damage and apoptosis of dopaminergic neurons in animal models of Parkinson’s disease and in culture. We identified DJ-1 to increase in response to high glucose in renal glomerular mesangial cells concomitant with an increase in phosphorylation of Akt in a time-dependent manner. Plasmid-derived overexpression as well as downregulation of DJ-1 by siRNA showed the requirement of this protein in high glucose-stimulated Akt phosphorylation. The tumor suppressor protein PTEN acts as a negative regulator of Akt activation. Interestingly, DJ-1 was associated with PTEN and this interaction was significantly increased in response to high glucose. High glucose-induced increase in DJ-1 promoted phosphorylation of the PRAS40, a negative regulator of TORC1 kinase activity, resulting in activating and inactivating phosphorylation of S6 kinase and 4EBP-1, respectively. Furthermore, DJ-1 increased protein synthesis and hypertrophy of mesangial cells. Our results provide evidence for a unique mechanism whereby DJ-1 induces Akt/PRAS40/TORC1-mediated hypertrophy in response to high glucose.
Akt kinase; Kidney; Diabetes; mTOR
VAPB (VAMP- associated protein B) is an ER protein that regulates multiple biological functions. Although aberrant expression of VAPB is associated with breast cancer, its function in tumor cells is poorly understood. In this report, we provide evidence that VAPB regulates breast tumor cell proliferation and AKT activation. VAPB protein expression is elevated in primary and metastatic tumor specimens, and VAPB mRNA expression levels correlated negatively with patient survival in two large breast tumor datasets. Overexpression of VAPB in mammary epithelial cells increased cell growth, whereas VAPB knockdown in tumor cells inhibited cell proliferation in vitro and suppressed tumor growth in orthotopic mammary gland allografts. The growth regulation of mammary tumor cells controlled by VAPB appears to be mediated, at least in part, by modulation of AKT activity. Overexpression of VAPB in MCF10A-HER2 cells enhances phosphorylation of AKT. In contrast, knockdown of VAPB in MMTV-Neu tumor cells inhibited pAKT levels. Pharmacological inhibition of AKT significantly reduced three-dimensional spheroid growth induced by VAPB. Collectively, the genetic, functional and mechanistic analyses suggest a role of VAPB in tumor promotion in human breast cancer.
Multi-drug resistance leads to the failure of chemotherapy for cancers. Our previous study showed that overexpression of CA916798 led to multi-drug resistance. However, the underlying mechanisms remain unknown. In the current study, we observed that the levels of phosphorylated AKT, phosphorylated mTOR and CA916798 all increased in the drug resistant human adenocarcinoma samples and paralleled with the change of drug resistance. The results of immunofluorescence and Co-IP indicated that the positive correlation of CA916798 expression with AKT1 activation might be associated with drug resistance of lung adenocarcinoma. Furthermore, AKT1 stimulated CA916798 expression through mTOR pathway in both A549 and A549/CDDP cell lines, which was also observed in the xenografted tumor in nude mice. The results showed that CA916798 located in the downstream of PI3K/AKT/mTOR pathway. Inhibition of PI3K by LY294002 could efficiently reduce CA916798 expression and tumor size in vivo as well. Additionally, LY294002 combined with rapamycin inhibited CA916798 expression and tumor size stronger than LY294002 alone. Our findings may also provide a new explanation for synergistic anti-tumor effects of PI3K and mTORC1 inhibitors.
Akt1, Akt2 and Akt3 kinases are downstream components of phosphoinositol 3-kinase derived signals from receptor tyrosine kinases, which influence cell growth, proliferation and survival. Akt2 overexpression and amplification have been described in breast, ovarian and pancreatic cancers. The present study was designed to investigate the prognostic significance of activated Akt in primary breast cancer and its association with other tumour biomarkers.
Using a two-site chemiluminescence-linked immunosorbent assay, we measured the quantitative expression levels of total phosphorylated (P-S473) Akt (Akt1/Akt2/Akt3) on cytosol fractions obtained from fresh frozen tissue samples of 156 primary breast cancer patients.
Akt phosphorylation was not associated with nodal status or ErbB-2 protein expression levels. High levels of phosphorylated Akt correlated (P < 0.01) with poor prognosis, and the significance of this correlation increased (P < 0.001) in the subset of patients with ErbB-2 overexpressing tumours. In addition, phosphorylated Akt was found to be associated with mRNA expression levels of several proliferation markers (e.g. thymidylate synthase), measured using quantitative real-time RT-PCR.
Our findings demonstrate that, in breast cancer patients, Akt activation is associated with tumour proliferation and poor prognosis, particularly in the subset of patients with ErbB2-overexpressing tumours.
The use of chemotherapy drugs for the treatment of cancer is an effective therapeutic measure. However, chemoresistance affects the effectiveness of the treatment. AKT overexpression has been observed in chemoresistance. AKT expression in colon cells induced cisplatin resistance. The present study demonstrated the role of reactive oxygen species (ROS) in the induction of AKT regulation by cisplatin through the activation of JAK2/STAT3 at the transcriptional level in colon cancer cells. HCT-116 cells treated with cisplatin exhibited increased JAK2 and STAT3 activities. Reducing the expression of JAK2 in colon cancer cells using small interfering RNA (siRNA) decreased AKT expression. The present study demonstrated that AKT activation is closely associated with chemoresistance in human tumors. The inhibition of ROS decreased the levels of AKT in colon cancer cell lines. The JAK2/STAT3 pathway was also shown to mediate AKT expression and represents a potential target for overcoming cisplatin resistance in human tumors.
AKT; reactive oxygen species; chemoresistance; colon cancer
Cell adhesion is a critical step in cancer metastasis, activated by extracellular forces such as pressure and shear. Reducing AKT1, but not AKT2, ablates the increase in cancer cell adhesion associated with 15 mmHg increased extracellular pressure. To identify the determinants of this AKT isoform specificity, we exchanged the pleckstrin homology (PH) domains and/or hinge regions of AKT1 and AKT2. Wild type isoforms or these chimeras were overexpressed in Caco-2 cells in the absence or presence of isoform-specific siRNA to suppress endogenous AKT1. Pressure-induced AKT translocation and phosphorylation to the membrane were compared, along with the stimulation of cell adhesion by pressure. Pressure stimulated translocation of AKT1, but not AKT2 to the plasma membrane. Among our chimeras, only the chimeric AKT2 (chimera2), in which both the AKT2 PH domain and hinge region had been replaced by those of AKT1, translocated to the membrane in response to pressure. Similarly, only chimera2 rescued the function of AKT1 in mediating pressure-stimulated adhesion after endogenous AKT1 had been reduced. Pressure also promoted phosphorylation of AKT1 but not AKT2, and expression of a non-phosphorylatable double point mutant prevented pressure-stimulated adhesion. Among the chimeras, pressure promoted only chimera2 phosphorylation. These results identify the AKT1 PH domain and hinge region as functional domains which jointly permit AKT1 translocation and phosphorylation in response to extracellular pressure and distinguish determine the specificity of AKT1 in mediating the effects of extracellular pressure on cancer cell adhesion. These may be useful targets for interventions to inhibit metastasis.
adhesion; AKT isoform; AKT1; AKT2; pressure; PH domain; hinge region
We have shown previously that overexpression of constitutively active Akt or activation of Akt caused by constitutively active Ras or human epidermal growth factor receptor-2 (HER2) confers on breast cancer cells resistance to chemotherapy or radiotherapy. As an expanded study we here report differential responses in terms of phosphorylation and activation of Akt as a result of treatment with doxorubicin in a panel of breast cancer cell lines.
The levels of Akt phosphorylation and activity were measured by Western blot analysis with an anti-Ser473-phosphorylated Akt antibody and by in vitro Akt kinase assay using glycogen synthase kinase-3 as a substrate.
Within 24 hours after exposure to doxorubicin, MCF7, MDA468 and T47D cells showed a drug-dose-dependent increase in the levels of phosphorylated Akt; in contrast, SKBR3 and MDA231 cells showed a decrease in the levels of phosphorylated Akt, and minimal or no changes were detected in MDA361, MDA157 and BT474 cells. The doxorubicin-induced Akt phosphorylation was correlated with increased kinase activity and was dependent on phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3-K). An increased baseline level of Akt was also found in MCF7 cells treated with ionizing radiation. The cellular responses to doxorubicin-induced Akt phosphorylation were potentiated after the expression of Akt upstream activators including HER2, HER3 and focal adhesion kinase.
Taken together with our recent published results showing that constitutive Akt mediates resistance to chemotherapy or radiotherapy, our present data suggest that the doxorubicin-induced phosphorylation and activation of Akt might reflect a cellular defensive mechanism of cancer cells to overcome doxorubicin-induced cytotoxic effects, which further supports the current efforts of targeting PI3-K/Akt for enhancing the therapeutic responses of breast cancer cells to chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
GGAP2/PIKE-A is a GTP-binding protein which can enhance Akt activity. Increased activation of the AKT and NF-κB pathways have been identified as critical steps in cancer initiation and progression in a variety of human cancers. We have found significantly increased expression GGAP2 in the majority of human prostate cancers and GGAP2 expression increases Akt activation in prostate cancer cells. Thus increased GGAP2 expression is a common mechanism for enhancing the activity of the Akt pathway in prostate cancers. In addition, we have found that activated Akt can bind and phosphorylate GGAP2 at serine 629, which enhances GTP binding by GGAP2. Phosphorylated GGAP2 can bind the p50 subunit of NF-κB and enhances NF-κB transcriptional activity. When expressed in prostate cancer cells, GGAP2 enhances proliferation, foci formation and tumor progression in vivo. Thus increased GGAP2 expression, which is present in three quarters of human prostate cancers, can activate two critical pathways that have been linked to prostate cancer initiation and progression.
Infantile hemangiomas are localized lesions comprised primarily of aberrant endothelial cells. COSMC plays a crucial role in blood vessel formation and is characterized as a molecular chaperone of T-synthase which catalyzes the synthesis of T antigen (Galβ1,3GalNAc). T antigen expression is associated with tumor malignancy in many cancers. However, roles of COSMC in infantile hemangioma are still unclear. In this study, immunohistochemistry showed that COSMC was upregulated in proliferating hemangiomas compared with involuted hemangiomas. Higher levels of T antigen expression were also observed in the proliferating hemangioma. Overexpression of COSMC significantly enhanced cell growth and phosphorylation of AKT and ERK in human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs). Conversely, knockdown of COSMC with siRNA inhibited endothelial cell growth. Mechanistic investigation showed that O-glycans were present on VEGFR2 and these structures were modulated by COSMC. Furthermore, VEGFR2 degradation was delayed by COSMC overexpression and facilitated by COSMC knockdown. We also showed that COSMC was able to regulate VEGF-triggered phosphorylation of VEGFR2. Our results suggest that COSMC is a novel regulator for VEGFR2 signaling in endothelial cells and dysregulation of COSMC expression may contribute to the pathogenesis of hemangioma.
Toll-like receptors (TLRs) are involved in innate immunity. Overexpression of TLRs has been implicated in various types of cancer including colorectal cancer (CRC). The phosphatidylinositol-3′-kinase (PI3K)/Akt signaling pathway is involved in CRC growth and progression. In this study, we determined whether TLR4 signaling and PI3K/Akt pathway activation occur in CRCs.
Materials and Methods
Human CRCs and adjacent mucosa were evaluated for TLR4 expression. CRC cell lines were treated with lipopolysaccharide (LPS), endogenous TLR4 ligand, to assess Akt phosphorylation.
Human CRCs overexpressed TLR4 compared to matched normal mucosa. Additionally, TLR4 was expressed in CRC cells and LPS treatment increased Akt phosphorylation of TLR4-positive CRCs in a time-dependent manner.
Our results identify TLR4 expression in human CRCs and activation of PI3K with LPS treatment. These findings suggest possible treatment strategies targeting TLR4 in CRC.
Inflammation; toll-like receptors; Akt; colon cancer
Strategies to address resistance to platin drugs are greatly needed in human epithelial cancers (e.g. ovarian, head/neck and lung) where platins are used widely and resistance occurs commonly. We found that upon ΔNp63α overexpression, AKT1 and phospho-AKT1 levels are up regulated in cancer cells. Investigations using gel-shift, chromatin immunoprecipitation and functional reporter assays implicated ΔNp63α in positive regulation of AKT1 transcription. Importantly, we found that ΔNp63α, AKT1 and phospho-AKT levels are greater in 2008CI3 CDDP-resistant ovarian cancer cells than in 2008 CDDP-sensitive cells. siRNA-mediated knockdown of ΔNp63α expression dramatically decreased AKT1 expression, whereas knockdown of either ΔNp63α or AKT1 decreased cell proliferation and increased death of ovarian and head/neck cancer cells. Conversely, enforced expression of ΔNp63α increased cancer cell proliferation and reduced apoptosis. Together, our findings define a novel ΔNp63α-dependent regulatory mechanism for AKT1 expression and its role in chemotherapeutic resistance of ovarian and head/neck cancer cells.
ΔNp63α; AKT1; CDDP; chemoresistance
The breast cancer susceptibility gene 1 (BRCA1) plays a key role in mammary tumorigenesis. However, the reasons why silencing the Brca1 gene leads to tumorigenesis are not clearly understood. We report here that BRCA1-deficiency activates the AKT oncogenic pathway, one of the most common alterations associated with human malignancy. Mutation of Brca1 gene increases the phosphorylation and the kinase activity of AKT. The BRCA1-BRCT domains bind to phosphorylated AKT (pAKT) and lead to its ubiquitination towards protein degradation. BRCA1 mutant cells lacking the BRCT repeats accumulate nuclear pAKT and consequently inactivate the transcription functions of FOXO3a, a main nuclear target of pAKT. Our results demonstrate that BRCA1 is a negative regulator of the AKT pathway and imply the significance of BRCA1/AKT pathway in tumorigenesis.
BRCA1; PKB/AKT; Phosphorylation; Ubiquitination
Akt signaling plays a central role in many biological functions, such as cell proliferation and apoptosis. Since Akt resides primarily in the cytosol, it is not known how these signaling molecules are recruited to the plasma membrane and subsequently activated by growth factor stimuli. Here, we found that the protein kinase Akt undergoes lysine 63 chain ubiquitination, which is important for Akt membrane localization and phosphorylation. TRAF6 was found to be a direct E3 ligase for Akt and was essential for Akt ubiquitination, membrane recruitment, and phosphorylation upon growth-factor stimulation. The human cancer-associated Akt mutant (E17K) displayed an increase in Akt ubiquitination, in turn contributing to the enhancement of Akt membrane localization and phosphorylation. Thus, Akt ubiquitination is an important step for oncogenic Akt activation.
Protein tyrosine kinase 6 (PTK6) is a nonmyristoylated Src-related intracellular tyrosine kinase. Although not expressed in the normal mammary gland, PTK6 is expressed in a majority of human breast tumors examined, and it has been linked to ErbB receptor signaling and AKT activation. Here we demonstrate that AKT is a direct substrate of PTK6 and that AKT tyrosine residues 315 and 326 are phosphorylated by PTK6. Association of PTK6 with AKT occurs through the SH3 domain of PTK6 and is enhanced through SH2 domain-mediated interactions following tyrosine phosphorylation of AKT. Using Src, Yes, and Fyn null mouse embryonic fibroblasts (SYF cells), we show that PTK6 phosphorylates AKT in a Src family kinase-independent manner. Introduction of PTK6 into SYF cells sensitized these cells to physiological levels of epidermal growth factor (EGF) and increased AKT activation. Stable introduction of active PTK6 into SYF cells also resulted in increased proliferation. Knockdown of PTK6 in the BPH-1 human prostate epithelial cell line led to decreased AKT activation in response to EGF. Our data indicate that in addition to promoting growth factor receptor-mediated activation of AKT, PTK6 can directly activate AKT to promote oncogenic signaling.
Sustained activation of Akt kinase acts as a focal regulator to increase cell growth and survival, which cause tumorigenesis including breast cancer. Statins, potent inhibitors of 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl coenzyme A reductase, display anticancer activity. The molecular mechanisms by which statins block cancer cell growth are poorly understood. We demonstrate that in the tumors derived from MDA-MB-231 human breast cancer cell xenografts, simvastatin significantly inhibited phosphorylation of Akt with concomitant attenuation of expression of the anti-apoptotic protein BclXL. In many cancer cells, BclXL is a target of NFκB. Simvastatin inhibited the DNA binding and transcriptional activities of NF κ B resulting in marked reduction in transcription of BclXL. Signals transmitted by anti-neoplastic mechanism implanted in the cancer cells serve to obstruct the initial outgrowth of tumors. One such mechanism represents the action of the tumor suppressor protein PTEN, which negatively regulates Akt kinase activity. We provide the first evidence for significantly increased levels of PTEN in the tumors of simvastatin-administered mice. Importantly, simvastatin markedly prevented binding of NFκB to the two canonical recognition elements, NFRE-1 and NFRE-2 present in the PTEN promoter. Contrary to the transcriptional suppression of BclXL, simvastatin significantly increased the transcription of PTEN. Furthermore, expression of NFκ B p65 subunit inhibited transcription of PTEN, resulting in reduced protein expression, which leads to enhanced phosphorylation of Akt. Taken together, our data present a novel bifaceted mechanism where simvastatin acts on a nodal transcription factor NFκ B, which attenuates the expression of anti-apoptotic BclXL and simultaneously derepresses the expression of anti-proliferative/proapoptotic tumor suppressor PTEN to prevent breast cancer cell growth.
Statin; Breast tumor; BclXL; Akt kinase
Aerobic glycolysis in cancer cells is regulated by multiple effectors that include Akt and pyruvate kinase M2 (PKM2). Mucin 1 (MUC1) is a heterodimeric glycoprotein that is aberrantly overexpressed by human breast and other carcinomas. Here we show that transformation of rat fibroblasts by the oncogenic MUC1-C subunit is associated with Akt-mediated increases in glucose uptake and lactate production, consistent with the stimulation of glycolysis. The results also demonstrate that the MUC1-C cytoplasmic domain binds directly to PKM2 at the B- and C-domains. Interaction between the MUC1-C cytoplasmic domain Cys-3 and the PKM2 C-domain Cys-474 was found to stimulate PKM2 activity. Conversely, epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR)-mediated phosphorylation of the MUC1-C cytoplasmic domain on Tyr-46 conferred binding to PKM2 Lys-433 and inhibited PKM2 activity. In human breast cancer cells, silencing MUC1-C was associated with decreases in glucose uptake and lactate production, confirming involvement of MUC1-C in the regulation of glycolysis. In addition, EGFR-mediated phosphorylation of MUC1-C in breast cancer cells was associated with decreases in PKM2 activity. These findings indicate that the MUC1-C subunit regulates glycolysis and that this response is conferred in part by PKM2. Thus, the overexpression of MUC1-C oncoprotein in diverse human carcinomas could be of importance to the Warburg effect of aerobic glycolysis.
LKB1 is a tumor suppressor that may also be fundamental to cell metabolism, since LKB1 phosphorylates and activates the energy sensing enzyme AMPK. We generated muscle-specific LKB1 knockout (MLKB1KO) mice, and surprisingly, found that a lack of LKB1 in skeletal muscle enhanced insulin sensitivity, as evidenced by decreased fasting glucose and insulin concentrations, improved glucose tolerance, increased muscle glucose uptake in vivo, and increased glucose utilization during a hyperinsulinemic-euglycemic clamp. MLKB1KO mice had increased insulin-stimulated Akt phosphorylation and a >80% decrease in muscle expression of TRB3, a recently identified Akt inhibitor. Akt/TRB3 binding was present in skeletal muscle, and overexpression of TRB3 in C2C12 myoblasts significantly reduced Akt phosphorylation. These results demonstrate that skeletal muscle LKB1 is a negative regulator of insulin sensitivity and glucose homeostasis. LKB1-mediated TRB3 expression provides a novel link between LKB1 and Akt, critical kinases involved in both tumor genesis and cell metabolism.
The Pak4 protein kinase, normally expressed at low level in the mammary gland, is commonly overexpressed in breast cancer. Overexpression of Pak4 transforms mouse mammary epithelial cells in vitro and renders these cells tumorigenic in athymic mice in vivo. Here we show that Pak4 is also required for oncogenic transformation of the human breast cancer cell line MDA-MB-231. These high Pak4-expressing human breast cancer cells form highly disorganized three-dimensional (3D) structures in vitro and readily give rise to orthotopic xenograft tumors in nude mice. We have found that when Pak4 levels are reduced, MDA-MB-231 cells exhibit decreased proliferation and migration in vitro, as well as gross restoration of normal 3D mammary acinar organization, the latter in association with a strong induction of apoptosis. Similarly, Pak4 knockdown suppresses MDA-MB-231 breast xenograft tumor formation in nude mice in vivo. These results indicate that Pak4 has a key role in the oncogenic transformation of breast cells.
breast cancer; Pak4; acini; tumorigenesis
PHLPP is a family of Ser/Thr protein phosphatases that contains PHLPP1 and PHLPP2 isoforms. We have shown previously that PHLPP functions as a tumor suppressor by negatively regulating Akt signaling in cancer cells. Here we report the identification of ribosomal protein S6 kinase 1 (S6K1) as a novel substrate of PHLPP. Overexpression of both PHLPP isoforms resulted in a decrease in S6K1 phosphorylation in cells, and this PHLPP-mediated dephosphorylation of S6K1 was independent of its ability to dephosphorylate Akt. Conversely, S6K1 phosphorylation was increased in cells depleted of PHLPP expression. Furthermore, we showed that the insulin receptor substrate 1 (IRS-1) expression and insulin-induced Akt phosphorylation were significantly decreased as the result of activation of the S6K-dependent negative feedback loop in PHLPP knockdown cells. Functionally, the phosphorylation of ribosomal protein S6 (rpS6) and the amount of phosphorylated rpS6 bound to the translation initiation complex were increased in PHLPP-knockdown cells. This correlated with increased cell size, protein content, and rate of cap-dependent translation. Taken together, our results demonstrate that loss of PHLPP expression activates the S6K-dependent negative feedback loop and that PHLPP is a novel player involved in regulating protein translation initiation and cell size via direct dephosphorylation of S6K1.