Glioma cell migration correlates with Pyk2 activity, but the intrinsic mechanism that regulates the activity of Pyk2 is not fully understood. Previous studies have supported a role for the N-terminal FERM domain in the regulation of Pyk2 activity as mutations in the FERM domain inhibit Pyk2 phosphorylation. To search for novel protein-protein interactions mediated by the Pyk2 FERM domain, we utilized a yeast two-hybrid genetic selection to identify the mammalian Ste20 homolog MAP4K4 as a binding partner for the Pyk2 FERM domain. MAP4K4 coimmunoprecipitated with Pyk2 and was a substrate for Pyk2 but did not coimmunoprecipitate with the closely related focal adhesion kinase FAK. Knockdown of MAP4K4 expression inhibited glioma cell migration and effectively blocked Pyk2 stimulation of glioma cell. Increased expression of MAP4K4 stimulated glioma cell migration; however, this stimulation was blocked by knockdown of Pyk2 expression. These data support that the interaction of MAP4K4 and Pyk2 is integrated with glioma cell migration and suggest that inhibition of this interaction may represent a potential therapeutic strategy to limit glioblastoma tumor dispersion.
A critical problem in the treatment of malignant gliomas is the extensive infiltration of individual tumor cells into adjacent brain tissues. This invasive phenotype severely limits all current therapies, and to date, no treatment is available to control the spread of this disease. Members of the tumor necrosis factor (TNF) ligand superfamily and their cognate receptors regulate various cellular responses including proliferation, migration, differentiation, and apoptosis. Specifically, the TNFRSF19/TROY gene encodes a type I cell surface receptor that is expressed on migrating or proliferating progenitor cells of the hippocampus, thalamus, and cerebral cortex. Here, we show that levels of TROY mRNA expression directly correlate with increasing glial tumor grade. Among malignant gliomas, TROY expression correlates inversely with overall patient survival. In addition, we show that TROY overexpression in glioma cells activates Rac1 signaling in a Pyk2-dependent manner to drive glioma cell invasion and migration. Pyk2 coimmunoprecipitates with the TROY receptor, and depletion of Pyk2 expression by short hairpin RNA interference oligonucleotides inhibits TROY-induced Rac1 activation and subsequent cellular migration. These findings position aberrant expression and/or signaling by TROY as a contributor, and possibly as a driver, of the malignant dispersion of glioma cells.
The focal adhesion kinase Pyk2 integrates signals from cell adhesion receptors, growth factor receptors, and G-protein-coupled receptors leading to the activation of intracellular signaling pathways that regulate cellular phenotypes. The intrinsic mechanism for the activation of Pyk2 activity remains to be fully defined. Previously, we reported that mutations in the N-terminal FERM domain result in loss of Pyk2 activity and expression of the FERM domain as an autonomous fragment inhibits Pyk2 activity. In the present study, we sought to determine the mechanism that underlies these effects. Utilizing differentially epitope-tagged Pyk2 constructs, we observed that Pyk2 forms oligomeric complexes in cells and that complex formation correlates positively with tyrosine phosphorylation. Similarly, when expressed as an autonomous fragment, the Pyk2 FERM domain formed a complex with other Pyk2 FERM domains but not the FAK FERM domain. When co-expressed with full-length Pyk2, the autonomously expressed Pyk2 FERM domain formed a complex with full-length Pyk2 preventing the formation of Pyk2 oligomers and resulting in reduced Pyk2 phosphorylation. Deletion of the FERM domain from Pyk2 enhanced Pyk2 complex formation and phosphorylation. Together, these data indicate that the Pyk2 FERM domain is involved in the regulation of Pyk2 activity by acting to regulate the formation of Pyk2 oligomers that are critical for Pyk2 activity.
The invasion of malignant glioma cells into the surrounding normal brain precludes effective clinical treatment. In this report, we investigated the role of the NH(2)-terminal FERM domain in the regulation of the promigratory function of Pyk2. We report that the substitution of residues that constitute a small cleft on the surface of the F3 module of the FERM domain do not significantly alter Pyk2 expression but result in the loss of Pyk2 phosphorylation. A monoclonal antibody, designated 12A10, specifically targeting the Pyk2 FERM domain was generated and recognizes an epitope located on the beta5C-alpha1C surface of the F3 module of the FERM domain. Amino acid substitutions in the F3 module that resulted in the loss of Pyk2 phosphorylation also inhibited the binding of 12A10, suggesting that the 12A10 epitope overlaps a site that plays a role in Pyk2 activity. Conjugation of 12A10 to a membrane transport peptide led to intracellular accumulation and inhibition of glioma cell migration in a concentration-dependent manner. A single chain Fv fragment of 12A10 was stable when expressed in the intracellular environment, interacted directly with Pyk2, reduced Pyk2 phosphorylation, and inhibited glioma cell migration in vitro. Stable intracellular expression of the 12A10 scFv significantly extended survival in a glioma xenograft model. Together, these data substantiate a central role for the FERM domain in regulation of Pyk2 activity and identify the F3 module as a novel target to inhibit Pyk2 activity and inhibit glioma progression.
Glioblastoma (GB) is the most common and lethal type of primary brain tumor. Clinical outcome remains poor and is essentially palliative due to the highly invasive nature of the disease. A more thorough understanding of the molecular mechanisms that drive glioma invasion is required to limit dispersion of malignant glioma cells.
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