Large-scale transcriptome and epigenome analyses have been widely utilized to discover gene alterations implicated in cancer development at the genetic level. However, mapping of signaling dynamics at the protein level is likely to be more insightful and needed to complement massive genomic data. Stable isotope labeling with amino acids in cell culture (SILAC)-based proteomic analysis represents one of the most promising comparative quantitative methods that has been extensively employed in proteomic research. This technology allows for global, robust and confident identification and quantification of signal perturbations important for the progress of human diseases, particularly malignancies. The present review summarizes the latest applications of in vitro and in vivo SILAC-based proteomics in identifying global proteome/phosphoproteome and genome-wide protein-protein interactions that contribute to oncogenesis, highlighting the recent advances in dissecting signaling dynamics in cancer.
Lemur tyrosine kinase 3 (LMTK3) is associated with cell proliferation and endocrine resistance in breast cancer. We found that, in cultured breast cancer cell lines, LMTK3 promotes the development of a metastatic phenotype by inducing the expression of genes encoding integrin subunits. Invasive behavior in various breast cancer cell lines positively correlated with the abundance of LMTK3. Overexpression of LMTK3 in a breast cancer cell line with low endogenous LMTK3 abundance promoted actin cytoskeleton remodeling, focal adhesion formation, and adhesion to collagen and fibronectin in culture. Using SILAC (stable isotope labeling by amino acids in cell culture) proteomic analysis, we found that LMTK3 increased the abundance of integrin subunits ?5 and ?1, encoded by ITGA5 and ITGB1. This effect depended on the CDC42 Rho family guanosine triphosphatase, which was in turn activated by the interaction between LMTK3 and growth factor receptor-bound protein 2 (GRB2), an adaptor protein that mediates receptor tyrosine kinase-induced activation of RAS and downstream signaling. Knockdown of GRB2 suppressed LMTK3-induced CDC42 activation, blocked ITGA5 and ITGB1 expression promoted by the transcription factor serum response factor (SRF), and reduced invasive activity. Furthermore, abundance of LMTK3 positively correlated with that of the integrin ?1 subunit in breast cancer patient's tumors. Our findings suggest a role for LMTK3 in promoting integrin activity during breast cancer progression and metastasis.
Genes involved in the carcinogenetic mechanisms underlying malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM) are still poorly characterized. So far, mesothelin (MSLN) has aroused the most interest. It encodes for a membrane glycoprotein, frequently over-expressed in various malignancies such as MPM, and ovarian and pancreatic cancers. It has been proposed as a diagnostic and immunotherapeutic target with promising results. However, an alternative therapeutic approach seems to rise, whereby synthetic molecules, such as antisense oligonucleotides, could be used to inhibit MSLN activity. To date, such a gene-level inhibition has been attempted in two studies only, both on pancreatic and ovarian carcinoma cell lines, with the use of silencing RNA approaches. With regard to MPM, only one cell line (H2373) has been employed to study the effects of MSLN depletion. Indeed, the knowledge on the role of MSLN in MPM needs expanding. Accordingly, we investigated the expression of MSLN in a panel of three MPM cell lines, i.e., NCI-H28, Mero-14, and IstMes2; one non-MPM cell line was used as reference (Met5A). MSLN knock-down experiments on MSLN-overexpressing cells were also performed through silencing RNA (siRNA) to verify whether previous findings could be generalized to a different set of cell cultures. In agreement with previous studies, transient MSLN-silencing caused decreased proliferation rate and reduced invasive capacity and sphere formation in MSLN-overexpressing Mero-14 cells. Moreover, MSLN-siRNA combined with cisplatin, triggered a marked increase in apoptosis and a decrease in proliferation as compared to cells treated with each agent alone, thereby suggesting a sensitizing effect of siRNA towards cisplatin. In summary, our findings confirm that MSLN should be considered a key molecular target for novel gene-based targeted therapies of cancer.
Lemur tyrosine kinase-3 (LMTK3) was recently identified as an estrogen receptor (ER)-? modulator related to endocrine therapy resistance, and its polymorphisms rs9989661 (T>C) T/T genotype and rs8108419 (G>A) G/G or A/G genotype predicted improved outcomes in breast cancer. Because different predominant ER distributions link to breast and gastric cancer and little is known of the prognostic role of LMTK3 in gastric cancer, this study was carried out to clarify the prognostic role of these polymorphisms in gastric cancer. One-hundred and sixty-nine Japanese and 137 U.S. patients with localized gastric adenocarcinoma were enrolled. Genomic DNA was extracted from blood or tissue, and all samples were analyzed by PCR-based direct DNA sequencing. Overall, these polymorphisms were not associated with survival in both cohorts. When gender was considered, in multivariate analysis, harboring rs9989661 T/T genotype was associated with disease-free survival [HR, 4.37; 95% confidence interval (CI), 2.08-9.18; P < 0.0001] and overall survival (OS; HR, 3.69; 95% CI, 1.65-8.24; P = 0.0014) in the Japanese males and time to recurrence (HR, 7.29; 95% CI, 1.07-49.80; P = 0.043) in the U.S. females. Meanwhile, harboring rs8108419 G/G genotype was associated with OS in the Japanese females (HR, 3.04; 95% CI, 1.08-8.56; P = 0.035) and the U.S. males (HR, 3.39; 95% CI, 1.31-8.80; P = 0.012). The prognostic role of these polymorphisms may be negative in gastric cancer. These findings suggest that the estrogen pathway may play a prognostic role in patients with gastric cancer but this may be dependent on the regional differences both in physiology and genetic alterations of gastric cancer.
Protein kinases play a pivotal role in regulating many aspects of biological processes, including development, differentiation and cell death. Within the kinome, 48 kinases (~10%) are classified as pseudokinases owing to the fact that they lack at least one conserved catalytic residue in their kinase domain. However, emerging evidence suggest that some pseudokinases, even without the ability to phosphorylate substrates, are regulators of multiple cellular signalling pathways. Among these is KSR1 (kinase suppressor of Ras 1), which was initially identified as a novel kinase in the Ras/Raf pathway. Subsequent studies showed that KSR1 mainly functions as a platform to assemble different cellular components thereby facilitating signal transduction. In the present article, we discuss recent findings regarding KSR1, indicating that it has dual activity as an active kinase as well as a pseudokinase/scaffolding protein. Moreover, the biological functions of KSR1 in human disorders, notably in malignancies, are also reviewed.
Estrogen Receptor ? (ER?), a member of the nuclear receptor superfamily of transcription factors, plays a central role in breast cancer development. More than two-thirds of patients with breast cancer are ER?-positive; however, a proportion becomes resistant. Phosphorylation of ER? is one of the mechanisms associated with resistance to endocrine therapy. In a kinome screen, we have identified the large tumor suppressor homolog-2 (LATS2) as a potential kinase, acting on ER?.
Interactions between kinases and the estrogen receptor ? (ER?) are thought to be a critical signaling pathway in the majority of human breast cancers. We have recently identified a previously uncharacterized molecule, lemur tyrosine kinase-3 (LMTK3) as a prognostic and predictive oncogenic ER? regulator with a central role in endocrine resistance. Unusually this protein has undergone Darwinian positive selection between Chimpanzees and humans suggesting it may contribute to human susceptibility to ER?-positive tumors. Using over 600 European primary breast cancer cases, we wished to establish tumor characteristics associated with both cytoplasmic and nuclear LMTK3 expression, and then externally validate our observed European clinical outcomes with samples from Asian individuals receiving chemotherapy. Both nuclear and cytoplasmic expression correlated with tumor grade (P < 0.001) and in the Asian cohort, independent blinded analyses demonstrated that high basal LMTK3 expression was associated with advanced stage of primary breast cancers as well as decreased overall (P = 0.03) and disease-free survival (P = 0.006). In summary, higher LMTK3 expression is associated with more aggressive cancers. These data support our previous findings and suggest LMTK3 expression may be a reliable new biomarker in breast cancer.
Therapies targeting estrogen receptor ? (ER?, encoded by ESR1) have transformed the treatment of breast cancer. However, large numbers of women relapse, highlighting the need for the discovery of new regulatory targets modulating ER? pathways. An siRNA screen identified kinases whose silencing alters the estrogen response including those previously implicated in regulating ER? activity (such as mitogen-activated protein kinase and AKT). Among the most potent regulators was lemur tyrosine kinase-3 (LMTK3), for which a role has not previously been assigned. In contrast to other modulators of ER? activity, LMTK3 seems to have been subject to Darwinian positive selection, a noteworthy result given the unique susceptibility of humans to ER?+ breast cancer. LMTK3 acts by decreasing the activity of protein kinase C (PKC) and the phosphorylation of AKT (Ser473), thereby increasing binding of forkhead box O3 (FOXO3) to the ESR1 promoter. LMTK3 phosphorylated ER?, protecting it from proteasomal degradation in vitro. Silencing of LMTK3 reduced tumor volume in an orthotopic mouse model and abrogated proliferation of ER?+ but not ER?- cells, indicative of its role in ER? activity. In human cancers, LMTK3 abundance and intronic polymorphisms were significantly associated with disease-free and overall survival and predicted response to endocrine therapies. These findings yield insights into the natural history of breast cancer in humans and reveal LMTK3 as a new therapeutic target.
The protein kinase family, one of the largest gene families in eukaryotes, plays an important role in regulating various cellular processes such as cell proliferation, cell death, cell cycle progression, differentiation and cell survival. Therefore, it is not surprising that the deregulation of many kinases is usually directly linked to cancer development. In all solid tumors, changes in protein kinase expression levels and activities, as well as alterations in the degree of posttranslational modifications can contribute to cancer development. Consequently, the identification of molecular targets and signaling pathways specific to cancer cells is becoming more and more important for cancer drug development and cancer therapies. Inhibition of various protein kinases has already been investigated in many pre-clinical and clinical trials targeting all stages of signal transduction, demonstrating promising results in cancer therapy. Conventional chemotherapeutics are often ineffective as well as harmful; hence a combination of both chemotherapeutics and protein kinase inhibitors may result in new and more successful therapeutic approaches. In this review we focus on protein kinases involved in different signaling pathways and their alterations in solid tumors.
Following estrogenic activation, the estrogen receptor-alpha (ERalpha) directly regulates the transcription of target genes via DNA binding. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) modulated by ERalpha have the potential to fine tune these regulatory systems and also provide an alternate mechanism that could impact on estrogen-dependent developmental and pathological systems. Through a microarray approach, we identify the subset of microRNAs (miRNAs) modulated by ERalpha, which include upregulation of miRNAs derived from the processing of the paralogous primary transcripts (pri-) mir-17-92 and mir-106a-363. Characterization of the mir-17-92 locus confirms that the ERalpha target protein c-MYC binds its promoter in an estrogen-dependent manner. We observe that levels of pri-mir-17-92 increase earlier than the mature miRNAs derived from it, implicating precursor cleavage modulation after transcription. Pri-mir-17-92 is immediately cleaved by DROSHA to pre-miR-18a, indicating that its regulation occurs during the formation of the mature molecule from the precursor. The clinical implications of this novel regulatory system were confirmed by demonstrating that pre-miR-18a was significantly upregulated in ERalpha-positive compared to ERalpha-negative breast cancers. Mechanistically, miRNAs derived from these paralogous pri-miRNAs (miR-18a, miR-19b, and miR-20b) target and downregulate ERalpha, while a subset of pri-miRNA-derived miRNAs inhibit protein translation of the ERalpha transcriptional p160 coactivator, AIB1. Therefore, different subsets of miRNAs identified act as part of a negative autoregulatory feedback loop. We propose that ERalpha, c-MYC, and miRNA transcriptional programs invoke a sophisticated network of interactions able to provide the wide range of coordinated cellular responses to estrogen.
Oncogenesis in breast cancer often requires the overexpression of the nuclear receptor coactivator AIB1/SRC-3 acting in conjunction with estrogen receptor-alpha (ERalpha). Phosphorylation of both ERalpha and AIB1 has been shown to have profound effects on their functions. In addition, proteasome-mediated degradation plays a major role by regulating their stability and activity. CK1delta, a member of the ubiquitous casein kinase-1 family, is implicated in the progression of breast cancer. In this study, we show that both ERalpha and AIB1 are substrates for CK1delta in vitro, and identify a novel AIB1 phosphorylation site (S601) targeted by CK1delta, significant for the co-activator function of AIB1. CK1delta is able to interact with ERalpha and AIB1 in vivo, while overexpression of CK1delta in breast cancer cells results in an increased association of ERalpha with AIB1 as confirmed by co-immunoprecipitation assays from cell lysates. Using an siRNA-based approach, luciferase reporter assays and qRT-PCR, we observe that silencing of CK1delta leads to reduced ERalpha transcriptional activity, despite increased ERalpha levels, similarly to proteasome inhibition. We provide evidence that AIB1 protein levels are reduced by CK1delta silencing, in an estradiol-dependent manner; such destabilization can be inhibited by pre-treatment with the proteasome inhibitor MG132. We propose that differing activities adopted by ERalpha and AIB1 as a consequence of their interactions with and phosphorylation by CK1delta, particularly AIB1 stabilization, influence the transcriptional activity of ERalpha, and therefore have a role in breast cancer development.
Nicastrin (NCT) is a crucial component of the ?-secretase (GS) enzyme, which prompted investigations into its biological role in cancer. We have previously shown that nicastrin is overexpressed in breast cancer (BC), conferring worse overall survival in invasive, ER? negative patients. Here, we used 2D and 3D Matrigel, anchorage-independent growth conditions and a breast cancer xenograft mouse model to assess the impact of nicastrin on breast cancer stem cell (BCSC) propagation and invasion in vitro and tumor growth in vivo. Stable knockdown of nicastrin in HCC1806 breast cancer cells reduced cell invasion by 51.4 ± 1.7%, accompanied by a morphological change to a rounded cell phenotype and down-regulation of vimentin, Snail, Twist, MMP2, and MMP9. We observed a reduction of the pool of CD44(+)/CD24(-) and ALDH1 high breast cancer stem cells by threefold and twofold, respectively, and a reduction by 2.6-fold of the mammospheres formation. Nicastrin overexpression in nontransformed MCF10A cells caused an induction of epithelial to mesenchymal regulators, as well as a fivefold increased ALDH1 activity, a threefold enrichment for CD44(+)/CD24(-) stem cells, and a 3.2-fold enhanced mammosphere-forming capacity. Using the ?-sescretase inhibiton, Notch1/4 siRNA, and Akt inhibition, we show that nicastrin regulates breast cancer stem cells partly through Notch1 and the Akt pathway. Exploiting serial dilution transplantation of the HCC1806 cells expressing nicastrin and HCC1806 stably depleted of nicastrin, in vivo, we demonstrate that nicastrin inhibition may be relevant for the reduced tumorigenicity of breast cancer cells. These data could serve as a benchmark for development of nicastrin-targeted therapies in breast cancer.
MicroRNA (miRNA) expression profiles have been described in pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC), but these have not been compared with pre-malignant pancreatic tumors. We wished to compare the miRNA expression signatures in pancreatic benign cystic tumors (BCT) of low and high malignant potential with PDAC, in order to identify miRNAs deregulated during PDAC development. The mechanistic consequences of miRNA dysregulation were further evaluated.
Kinases play a critical role in regulating many cellular functions including development, differentiation and proliferation. To date, over 518 proteins with kinase activity, comprising ~2-3% of total cellular proteins, have been identified from within the human kinome. Interestingly, approximately 10% of kinases are categorised as pseudokinases since they lack one or more conserved catalytic residues within their kinase domain and were originally thought to have no enzymatic activity. Recently, there has been strong evidence to suggest that some pseudokinsases can not only function as scaffold proteins, but may also possess kinase activity leading to modulation of cell signalling pathways. Altered activity of these pseudokinases can result in impaired cellular function, particularly in malignancies. In this review we are discussing recent evidence that apart from a scaffolding role, pseudokinases also orchestrate cellular processes as active kinases per se in signalling pathways of malignant cells.
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