Gene Summary

Gene:RHOA; ras homolog family member A
Aliases: ARHA, ARH12, RHO12, RHOH12
Databases:OMIM, VEGA, HGNC, Ensembl, GeneCard, Gene
Protein:transforming protein RhoA
Source:NCBIAccessed: 17 August, 2015


What does this gene/protein do?
Show (53)
Pathways:What pathways are this gene/protein implicaed in?
Show (24)

Cancer Overview

Research Indicators

Publications Per Year (1990-2015)
Graph generated 17 August 2015 using data from PubMed using criteria.

Literature Analysis

Mouse over the terms for more detail; many indicate links which you can click for dedicated pages about the topic.

  • Lung Cancer
  • Liver Cancer
  • Gene Expression
  • NIH 3T3 Cells
  • Neoplasm Invasiveness
  • Cytoskeleton
  • p21-Activated Kinases
  • Western Blotting
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Cancer Gene Expression Regulation
  • Gene Knockdown Techniques
  • Transcription Factors
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Cell Adhesion
  • Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases
  • MicroRNAs
  • Chromosome 3
  • Bladder Cancer
  • siRNA
  • Messenger RNA
  • src-Family Kinases
  • Apoptosis
  • GTPase-Activating Proteins
  • Breast Cancer
  • Enzyme Activation
  • Hepatocellular Carcinoma
  • RNA Interference
  • RHOA
  • Cell Movement
  • Phosphorylation
  • Down-Regulation
  • Actins
  • Neoplastic Cell Transformation
  • Guanine Nucleotide Exchange Factors
  • Neoplasm Proteins
  • Mutation
  • Disease Progression
  • Neoplasm Metastasis
Tag cloud generated 17 August, 2015 using data from PubMed, MeSH and CancerIndex

Specific Cancers (4)

Data table showing topics related to specific cancers and associated disorders. Scope includes mutations and abnormal protein expression.

Note: list is not exhaustive. Number of papers are based on searches of PubMed (click on topic title for arbitrary criteria used).

Latest Publications: RHOA (cancer-related)

Park GB, Hur DY, Kim D
Combining CAL-101 with Celecoxib Enhances Apoptosis of EBV-transformed B-Cells Through MAPK-induced ER Stress.
Anticancer Res. 2015; 35(5):2699-708 [PubMed] Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Phosphoinositide-3 kinase (PI3K) inhibition attenuates proliferation and survival in B-cell malignancies. Celecoxib induces endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress-induced apoptosis via a cyclo-oxgenase-2 (COX2)-independent manner in certain types of cancer cells. In the present study, we assessed the effects of combinations of drugs with a p110δ-specific inhibitor, CAL-101, and celecoxib to induce apoptosis in Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)-transformed B-cells and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL) cells.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: The apoptotic effect of combination treatment with CAL-101 and celecoxib on B-cell malignancies was determined by flow cytometry and immunoblotting.
RESULTS: Exposure to CAL-101 and celecoxib significantly increased apoptosis, which was accompanied by the inactivation of AKT, Ras homolog gene family, member A (RHOA), Rho-associated coiled-coil containing protein kinase 1 (ROCK1), and ROCK2 as well as up-regulation of Phosphatase and tensin homolog (PTEN). Co-treatment with CAL-101 and celecoxib triggered the ER stress response and the down-regulation of BCL2 and BCL-XL. SB203580, SP600125, and salubrinal effectively inhibited apoptosis and attenuated expression of phosphorylated protein kinase RNA-like endoplasmic reticulum kinase (PERK) and CCAAT-enhancer-binding protein homologous protein (CHOP). Levels of apoptosis signal-regulating kinase 1 (ASK1) were also increased after treatment with CAL-101 and celecoxib.
CONCLUSION: The apoptosis of EBV-transformed B-cells and NHL cells caused by CAL-101 and celecoxib might be related to inhibiting the RHOA/ROCK pathway and might also be associated with mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK)-mediated ER stress.

Yu OM, Brown JH
G Protein-Coupled Receptor and RhoA-Stimulated Transcriptional Responses: Links to Inflammation, Differentiation, and Cell Proliferation.
Mol Pharmacol. 2015; 88(1):171-80 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/07/2016 Related Publications
The low molecular weight G protein RhoA (rat sarcoma virus homolog family member A) serves as a node for transducing signals through G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs). Activation of RhoA occurs through coupling of G proteins, most prominently, G12/13, to Rho guanine nucleotide exchange factors. The GPCR ligands that are most efficacious for RhoA activation include thrombin, lysophosphatidic acid, sphingosine-1-phosphate, and thromboxane A2. These ligands also stimulate proliferation, differentiation, and inflammation in a variety of cell and tissues types. The molecular events underlying these responses are the activation of transcription factors, transcriptional coactivators, and downstream gene programs. This review describes the pathways leading from GPCRs and RhoA to the regulation of activator protein-1, NFκB (nuclear factor κ-light-chain-enhancer of activated B cells), myocardin-related transcription factor A, and Yes-associated protein. We also focus on the importance of two prominent downstream transcriptional gene targets, the inflammatory mediator cyclooxygenase 2, and the matricellular protein cysteine-rich angiogenic inducer 61 (CCN1). Finally, we describe the importance of GPCR-induced activation of these pathways in the pathophysiology of cancer, fibrosis, and cardiovascular disease.

Yu DD, Lv MM, Chen WX, et al.
Role of miR-155 in drug resistance of breast cancer.
Tumour Biol. 2015; 36(3):1395-401 [PubMed] Related Publications
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small noncoding RNAs that regulate gene expressions at posttranscriptional level. Growing evidence points to their significant role in the acquisition of drug resistance in cancers. Studies show that miRNAs are often aberrantly expressed in human cancer cells which are associated with tumorigenesis, metastasis, invasiveness, and drug resistance. Breast cancer is the leading cause of cancer-induced death in women. Over the last decades, increasing attention has been paid to the effects of miRNAs on the development of breast cancer drug resistance. Among them, miR-155 takes part in a sequence of bioprocesses that contribute to the development of such drug resistance, including repression of FOXO3a, enhancement of epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) and mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) signaling, reduction of RhoA, and affecting the length of telomeres. In this review, we discuss the role of miR-155 in the acquisition of breast cancer drug resistance. This will provide a new way in antiresistance treatment of drug-resistant breast cancer.

Mu H, Wang N, Zhao L, et al.
Methylation of PLCD1 and adenovirus-mediated PLCD1 overexpression elicits a gene therapy effect on human breast cancer.
Exp Cell Res. 2015; 332(2):179-89 [PubMed] Related Publications
Our previous study showed that PLCD1 significantly decreases cell proliferation and affects cell cycle progression in breast cancer cells. In the present study, we aimed to investigate its functional and molecular mechanisms, and whether or not can become a new target for gene therapies. We found reduced PLCD1 protein expression in breast tumor tissues compared with paired surgical margin tissues. PLCD1 promoter CpG methylation was detected in 55 of 96 (57%) primary breast tumors, but not in surgical-margin tissues and normal breast tissues. Ectopic expression of PLCD1 inhibited breast tumor cell proliferation in vivo by inducing apoptosis and suppressed tumor cell migration by regulating cytoskeletal reorganization proteins including RhoA and phospho-cofilin. Furthermore, we found that PLCD1 induced p53 accumulation, increased p27 and p21 protein levels, and cleaved PARP. Finally, we constructed an adenoviral vector expressing PLCD1 (AdH5-PLCD1), which exhibited strong cytotoxicity in breast cancer cells. Our findings provide insights into the development of PLCD1 gene therapies for breast cancer and perhaps, other human cancers.

Xu Z, Zheng X, Yang L, et al.
Chemokine receptor 7 promotes tumor migration and invasiveness via the RhoA/ROCK pathway in metastatic squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck.
Oncol Rep. 2015; 33(2):849-55 [PubMed] Related Publications
Metastatic squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck (SCCHN) has been shown to express chemokine receptor 7 (CCR7), which can activate signaling pathways to promote invasion and survival of SCCHN cells. We hypothesized that the RhoA/Rho-associated kinase (ROCK) pathway is involved in the CCR7-induced invasion and migration of metastatic SCCHN cells. Thus, using migration, matrigel invasion and scrape wound-healing assays, we elucidated the role of RhoA in mediating CCR7-associated cellular mobility. Pull-down assays and western blotting were used to measure RhoA and its downstream expression. Immunohistochemical staining and analysis were useful in identifying the correlation between CCR7 and RhoA expression and clinicopathological factors. The results showed that inhibition of RhoA/ROCK reduced the tumor cell migration and invasiveness induced by CCL19. Activated RhoA, proline-rich tyrosine kinase-2 (Pyk2) and cofilin induced by CCL19 were elevated, and increased RhoA, Pyk2 and cofilin activity was eliminated by CCR7mAb, RhoA/ROCK and Pyk2 inhibitors, indicating involvement of the RhoA/ROCK-Pyk2-cofilin cascade. In summary, CCR7 via RhoA/ROCK-Pyk2 cofilin pathway promotes invasion and migration of metastatic SCCHN cells.

Okamoto S, Jiang Y, Kawamura K, et al.
Zoledronic acid induces apoptosis and S-phase arrest in mesothelioma through inhibiting Rab family proteins and topoisomerase II actions.
Cell Death Dis. 2014; 5:e1517 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/07/2016 Related Publications
Zoledronic acid (ZOL), a nitrogen-containing bisphosphonate, produced anti-tumor effects through apoptosis induction or S-phase arrest depending on human mesothelioma cells tested. An addition of isoprenoid, geranylgeraniol but not farnesol, negated these ZOL-induced effects, indicating that the ZOL-mediated effects were attributable to depletion of geranylgeranyl pyrophosphates which were substrates for prenylation processes of small guanine-nucleotide-binding regulatory proteins (small G proteins). ZOL-treated cells decreased a ratio of membrane to cytoplasmic fractions in RhoA, Cdc42 and Rab6 but less significantly Rac1 proteins, indicating that these proteins were possible targets for ZOL-induced actions. We further analyzed which small G proteins were responsible for the three ZOL-induced effects, caspase-mediated apoptosis, S-phase arrest and morphological changes, using inhibitors for respective small G proteins and siRNA for Cdc42. ZOL-induced apoptosis is due to insufficient prenylation of Rab proteins because an inhibitor of geranlygeranyl transferase II that was specific for Rab family proteins prenylation, but not others inhibitors, activated the same apoptotic pathways that ZOL did. ZOL suppressed an endogenous topoisomerase II activity, which was associated with apoptosis and S-phase arrest in respective cells because we detected the same cell cycle changes in etoposide-treated cells. Inhibitors for geranlygeranyl transferase I and for RhoA produced morphological changes and disrupted actin fiber structures, both of which were similar to those by ZOL treatments. These data demonstrated that anti-tumor effects by ZOL were attributable to inhibited functions of respective small G proteins and topoisomerase II activity, and suggested that cellular factors were involved in the differential cell cycle changes.

Menhofer MH, Kubisch R, Schreiner L, et al.
The actin targeting compound Chondramide inhibits breast cancer metastasis via reduction of cellular contractility.
PLoS One. 2014; 9(11):e112542 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/07/2016 Related Publications
BACKGROUND: A major player in the process of metastasis is the actin cytoskeleton as it forms key structures in both invasion mechanisms, mesenchymal and amoeboid migration. We tested the actin binding compound Chondramide as potential anti-metastatic agent.
METHODS: In vivo, the effect of Chondramide on metastasis was tested employing a 4T1-Luc BALB/c mouse model. In vitro, Chondramide was tested using the highly invasive cancer cell line MDA-MB-231 in Boyden-chamber assays, fluorescent stainings, Western blot and Pull down assays. Finally, the contractility of MDA-MB-231 cells was monitored in 3D environment and analyzed via PIV analysis.
RESULTS: In vivo, Chondramide treatment inhibits metastasis to the lung and the migration and invasion of MDA-MB-231 cells is reduced by Chondramide in vitro. On the signaling level, RhoA activity is decreased by Chondramide accompanied by reduced MLC-2 and the stretch induced guanine nucleotide exchange factor Vav2 activation. At same conditions, EGF-receptor autophosphorylation, Akt and Erk as well as Rac1 are not affected. Finally, Chondramide treatment disrupted the actin cytoskeleton and decreased the ability of cells for contraction.
CONCLUSIONS: Chondramide inhibits cellular contractility and thus represents a potential inhibitor of tumor cell invasion.

Chen W, Mao K, Hua-Huy T, et al.
Fasudil inhibits prostate cancer-induced angiogenesis in vitro.
Oncol Rep. 2014; 32(6):2795-802 [PubMed] Related Publications
Inhibition of angiogenesis is an important therapeutic strategy for advanced stage prostate cancer (PCa). RhoA/Rho-associated protein kinases (ROCK) are key regulators of the cytoskeleton and have been implicated in PCa angiogenesis. We investigated the anti-angiogenic effects of fasudil, a ROCK inhibitor, on PCa-induced angiogenesis in vitro. Proliferation of PCa-conditioned human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs) was assessed using a bromodeoxyuridine (BrdU) assay, and migration was assessed with a wound healing assay. In vitro angiogenesis of PCa-conditioned HUVECs was evaluated by tube formation and a spheroid sprouting assay. Fasudil inhibited PCa-induced endothelial cell proliferation at a concentration of 100 µM, and also decreased PCa-induced endothelial cell migration at a concentration of 30 µM. In the in vitro angiogenesis assay, fasudil exerted a more significant effect. Tube formation was significantly inhibited at fasudil concentrations exceeding 3 µM, and spheroid sprouts were significantly thinner and shorter (at fasudil concentrations of 10 and 30 µM, respectively). Western blotting results showed that expression of phosphorylated myosin phosphatase target subunit 1 (MYPT-1) was significantly lower after fasudil treatment, confirming that fasudil inhibited ROCK activity in these model systems. These data suggest that fasudil may be a useful anti-angiogenic agent for PCa.

Gan CP, Patel V, Mikelis CM, et al.
Heterotrimeric G-protein alpha-12 (Gα12) subunit promotes oral cancer metastasis.
Oncotarget. 2014; 5(20):9626-40 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/07/2016 Related Publications
Oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC) has a propensity to spread to the cervical lymph nodes (LN). The presence of cervical LN metastases severely impacts patient survival, whereby the two-year survival for oral cancer patients with involved LN is ~30% compared to over 80% in patients with non-involved LN. Elucidation of key molecular mechanisms underlying OSCC metastasis may afford an opportunity to target specific genes, to prevent the spread of OSCC and to improve patient survival. In this study, we demonstrated that expression of the heterotrimeric G-protein alpha-12 (Gα12) is highly up-regulated in primary tumors and LN of OSCC patients, as assessed by quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) and immunohistochemistry (IHC). We also found that exogenous expression of the constitutively activated-form of Gα12 promoted cell migration and invasion in OSCC cell lines. Correspondingly, inhibition of Gα12 expression by shRNA consistently inhibited OSCC cell migration and invasion in vitro. Further, the inhibition of G12 signaling by regulator of G-protein signaling (RGS) inhibited Gα12-mediated RhoA activation, which in turn resulted in reduced LN metastases in a tongue-orthotopic xenograft mouse model of oral cancer. This study provides a rationale for future development and evaluation of drug candidates targeting Gα12-related pathways for metastasis prevention.

Perry NA, Vitolo MI, Martin SS, Kontrogianni-Konstantopoulos A
Loss of the obscurin-RhoGEF downregulates RhoA signaling and increases microtentacle formation and attachment of breast epithelial cells.
Oncotarget. 2014; 5(18):8558-68 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/07/2016 Related Publications
Obscurins are RhoGEF-containing proteins whose downregulation has been implicated in the development and progression of breast cancer. Herein, we aim to elucidate the mechanism for increased motility of obscurin-deficient cells. We show that shRNA-mediated obscurin downregulation in MCF10A cells leads to >50% reduction in RhoA activity relative to scramble control (shCtrl), as well as decreased phosphorylation of RhoA effectors, including myosin light chain phosphatase, myosin light chain, lim kinase, and cofilin, in both attached and suspended cells. These alterations result in decreased actomyosin contractility, allowing suspended cells to escape detachment-induced apoptosis. Moreover, ~40% of shObsc-expressing cells, but only ~10% of shCtrl-expressing cells, extend microtentacles, tubulin-based projections that mediate the attachment of circulating tumor cells to endothelium. Indeed, we show that MCF10A cells expressing shObsc attach in vitro more readily than shCtrl cells, an advantage that persists following taxane exposure. Overall, our data suggest that loss of obscurins may represent a substantial selective advantage for breast epithelial cells during metastasis, and that treatment with paclitaxel may exacerbate this advantage by preferentially allowing obscurin-deficient, stem-like cells to attach to the endothelium of distant sites, a first step towards colonizing metastatic tumors.

Yao Y, Li C, Zhou X, et al.
PIWIL2 induces c-Myc expression by interacting with NME2 and regulates c-Myc-mediated tumor cell proliferation.
Oncotarget. 2014; 5(18):8466-77 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/07/2016 Related Publications
c-Myc serves as a crucial regulator in multiple cellular events. Cumulative evidences demonstrate that anomalous c-Myc overexpression correlates with proliferation, invasion and metastasis in various human tumors. However, the transcriptionally activating mechanisms responsible for c-Myc overexpression are complex and continue to be intangible. Here we showed that Piwi-Like RNA-Mediated Gene Silencing 2 (PIWIL2) can upregulate c-Myc via binding with NME/NM23 nucleoside diphosphate kinase 2 (NME2). PIWIL2 promotes c-Myc transcription by interacting with and facilitating NME2 to bind to G4-motif region within c-Myc promoter. Interestingly, in a c-Myc-mediated manner, PIWIL2 upregulates RhoA, which in turn induces filamentary F-actin. Deficiency of PIWIL2 results in obstacle for c-Myc expression, cell cycle progress and cell proliferation. Taken together, our present work demonstrates that PIWIL2 modulates tumor cell proliferation and F-actin filaments via promoting c-Myc expression.

Li YY, Zhou CX, Gao Y
Snail regulates the motility of oral cancer cells via RhoA/Cdc42/p-ERM pathway.
Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2014; 452(3):490-6 [PubMed] Related Publications
The transcriptional factor Snail has been reported to possess properties related to cancer progression; however, the mechanism for it is not fully understood. Our data showed that Snail knockdown by small interfering RNA in two OSCC cell lines, WSU-HN6 and CAL27, significantly inhibited cell migration and invasion which also resulted in decreased cell motility, such as impaired cell spreading on type I collagen substrate, reduced filopodia, and premature assembly of stress fibers. In addition, Snail-silencing decreased Cdc42 activity but increased RhoA activity, accompanied by the downregulation in both p-ERM expression and cell motility. Meanwhile, endogenous p-ERM was found specifically co-precipitated with activated Cdc42, but not RhoA, and this co-association was decreased by Snail-silencing. The small molecule inhibitors of Rho-associated kinase (Y27632) markedly enhanced Cdc42 activity and the association of p-ERM with activated Cdc42, increasing cell motility remarkably. Using immunohistochemistry, Snail and p-ERM overexpressions were found in OSCC tissues correlated with nodal metastasis and shorter survival. Taken together, these results demonstrate that Snail regulates cell motility through RhoA/Cdc42/p-ERM pathway and may serve as a biomarker to predict prognosis for OSCC patients. Although RhoA and Cdc42 are concurrently regulated downstream of Snail, there is a direct interplay between them, which indicates RhoA has to be inactivated at some point in cell motility cycle.

Shimoda M, Principe S, Jackson HW, et al.
Loss of the Timp gene family is sufficient for the acquisition of the CAF-like cell state.
Nat Cell Biol. 2014; 16(9):889-901 [PubMed] Related Publications
Cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs) drive tumour progression, but the emergence of this cell state is poorly understood. A broad spectrum of metalloproteinases, controlled by the Timp gene family, influence the tumour microenvironment in human cancers. Here, we generate quadruple TIMP knockout (TIMPless) fibroblasts to unleash metalloproteinase activity within the tumour-stromal compartment and show that complete Timp loss is sufficient for the acquisition of hallmark CAF functions. Exosomes produced by TIMPless fibroblasts induce cancer cell motility and cancer stem cell markers. The proteome of these exosomes is enriched in extracellular matrix proteins and the metalloproteinase ADAM10. Exosomal ADAM10 increases aldehyde dehydrogenase expression in breast cancer cells through Notch receptor activation and enhances motility through the GTPase RhoA. Moreover, ADAM10 knockdown in TIMPless fibroblasts abrogates their CAF function. Importantly, human CAFs secrete ADAM10-rich exosomes that promote cell motility and activate RhoA and Notch signalling in cancer cells. Thus, Timps suppress cancer stroma where activated-fibroblast-secreted exosomes impact tumour progression.

Fu Y, Feng MX, Yu J, et al.
DNA methylation-mediated silencing of matricellular protein dermatopontin promotes hepatocellular carcinoma metastasis by α3β1 integrin-Rho GTPase signaling.
Oncotarget. 2014; 5(16):6701-15 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/07/2016 Related Publications
Dermatopontin (DPT), a tyrosine-rich, acidic matricellular protein, has been implicated in several human cancers. However, its biological functions and molecular mechanisms in cancer progression, particular hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), remain unknown. We demonstrated that DPT was significantly down-regulated in 202 HCC clinical samples and that its expression level was closely correlated with cancer metastasis and patient prognosis. The overexpression of DPT dramatically suppressed HCC cell migration in vitro and intrahepatic metastasis in vivo. We further revealed that the down-regulation of DPT in HCC was due to epigenetic silencing by promoter DNA methylation. And the inhibitory effects of DPT on HCC cell motility were associated with dysregulated focal adhesion assembly, decreased RhoA activity and reduced focal adhesion kinase (FAK) and c-Src tyrosine kinase (Src) phosphorylation, and all of these alterations required the involvement of integrin signaling. Furthermore, we determined that the inhibitory effects of DPT on HCC cell motility were primarily mediated through α3β1 integrin. Our study provides new evidence for epigenetic control of tumor microenvironment, and suggests matricellular protein DPT may serve as a novel prognostic marker and act as a HCC metastasis suppressor.

Osborne LD, Li GZ, How T, et al.
TGF-β regulates LARG and GEF-H1 during EMT to affect stiffening response to force and cell invasion.
Mol Biol Cell. 2014; 25(22):3528-40 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/07/2016 Related Publications
Recent studies implicate a role for cell mechanics in cancer progression. The epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) regulates the detachment of cancer cells from the epithelium and facilitates their invasion into stromal tissue. Although classic EMT hallmarks include loss of cell-cell adhesions, morphology changes, and increased invasion capacity, little is known about the associated mechanical changes. Previously, force application on integrins has been shown to initiate cytoskeletal rearrangements that result in increased cell stiffness and a stiffening response. Here we demonstrate that transforming growth factor β (TGF-β)-induced EMT results in decreased stiffness and loss of the normal stiffening response to force applied on integrins. We find that suppression of the RhoA guanine nucleotide exchange factors (GEFs) LARG and GEF-H1 through TGF-β/ALK5-enhanced proteasomal degradation mediates these changes in cell mechanics and affects EMT-associated invasion. Taken together, our results reveal a functional connection between attenuated stiffness and stiffening response and the increased invasion capacity acquired after TGF-β-induced EMT.

Naiditch JA, Jie C, Lautz TB, et al.
Mesenchymal change and drug resistance in neuroblastoma.
J Surg Res. 2015; 193(1):279-88 [PubMed] Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Metastatic initiation has many phenotypic similarities to epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition, including loss of cell-cell adhesion, increased invasiveness, and increased cell mobility. We have previously demonstrated that drug resistance is associated with a metastatic phenotype in neuroblastoma (NB). The purpose of this project was to determine if the development of doxorubicin resistance is associated with characteristics of mesenchymal change in human NB cells.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: Total RNA was isolated from wild type (WT) and doxorubicin-resistant (DoxR) human NB cell lines (SK-N-SH and SK-N-BE(2)C) and analyzed using the Illumina Human HT-12 version 4 Expression BeadChip. Differentially expressed genes (DEGs) were identified. Volcano plots and heat maps were generated. Genes of interest with a fold change in expression >1.5 and an adjusted P < 0.1 were analyzed. Immunofluorescence (IF) and Western blot analysis confirmed microarray results of interest. Matrigel invasion assay and migration wounding assays were performed.
RESULTS: Volcano plots and heat maps visually demonstrated a similar pattern of DEGs in the SK-N-SH and SK-N-BE(2)C DoxR cell lines relative to their parental WT lines. Venn diagramming revealed 1594 DEGs common to both DoxR cell lines relative to their parental cell lines. Network analysis pointed to several significantly upregulated epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition pathways, through TGF-beta pathways via RhoA, PI3K, and ILK and via SMADs, as well as via notch signaling pathways. DoxR cell lines displayed a more invasive phenotype than respective WT cell lines.
CONCLUSIONS: Human SK-N-SH and SK-N-BE(2)C NB cells display characteristics of mesenchymal change via multiple pathways in the transition to a drug-resistant state.

Malik M, Britten J, Segars J, Catherino WH
Leiomyoma cells in 3-dimensional cultures demonstrate an attenuated response to fasudil, a rho-kinase inhibitor, when compared to 2-dimensional cultures.
Reprod Sci. 2014; 21(9):1126-38 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/09/2015 Related Publications
Uterine leiomyomata are common benign tumors in women of reproductive age and demonstrate an attenuated response to mechanical signaling that involves Rho and integrins. To further characterize the impairment in Rho signaling, we studied the effect of Rho-kinase inhibitor, fasudil, on extracellular matrix production, in 2-dimensional (2D) and 3-dimensional (3D) cultures of leiomyoma and myometrial cells. Leiomyoma 2D cultures demonstrated a rapid decrease in gene transcripts and protein for fibronectin, procollagen 1A, and versican. In 3D cultures, fibronectin and procollagen 1A proteins demonstrated increased levels at lower concentrations of fasudil, followed by a concentration-dependent decrease. Versican protein increased up to 3-fold, whereas fibromodulin demonstrated a significant decrease of 1.92-fold. Myometrial 2D or 3D cultures demonstrated a decrease in all proteins after 72 hours of treatment. The 3D leiomyoma cultures demonstrated a significant increase in active RhoA, followed by a concentration-dependent decrease at higher concentrations. A concentration-dependent increase in phospho-extracellular regulated signal kinase and proapoptotic protein Bax was observed in 3D leiomyoma cultures. Fasudil relaxed the contraction of the 3D collagen gels caused by myometrium and leiomyoma cell growth. These findings indicate that the altered state of Rho signaling in leiomyoma was more clearly observed in 3D cultures. The results also suggest that fasudil may have clinical applicability for treatment of uterine leiomyoma.

Bailón E, Ugarte-Berzal E, Amigo-Jiménez I, et al.
Overexpression of progelatinase B/proMMP-9 affects migration regulatory pathways and impairs chronic lymphocytic leukemia cell homing to bone marrow and spleen.
J Leukoc Biol. 2014; 96(2):185-99 [PubMed] Related Publications
This study addresses the role of (pro)MMP-9 overexpression in CLL cell migration. We have used primary CLL cells and CLL-derived MEC-1 cells transfected with empty (mock cells) or proMMP-9-encoding (MMP-9 cells) lentiviral vectors. The constitutive (pro)MMP-9 expression in mock cells and primary CLL cells was similar, whereas in MMP-9 cells, expression resembled that of CLL cells incubated with proMMP-9. In xenograft models, in NOD/SCID mice, MMP-9-MEC-1 transfectants showed significantly reduced homing to bone marrow and spleen compared with mock cells. Likewise, incubation of primary CLL cells with proMMP-9, before injection into mice, inhibited their homing to these organs. This inhibition was specific, dose-dependent, and observed in all CLL tested, independently of prognostic markers or disease stage. Additionally, the MMP-9 catalytic activity was only partially involved, as the inactive mutant proMMP-9MutE had a partial effect. MMP-9 cells also showed impaired migration in vitro, which was reverted by reducing (pro)MMP-9 expression with siRNAs. CLL migration thus requires optimal (pro)MMP-9 expression levels, below or above which migration is hampered. Biochemical analysis of the (pro)MMP-9 effect indicated that MMP-9 cells or primary CLL cells incubated with proMMP-9 had reduced activation of migration regulatory molecules, including RhoAGTPase, Akt, ERK, and FAK. In contrast, p190RhoGAP (RhoA inhibitor) and PTEN (Akt/ERK/FAK inhibitor) were up-regulated in MMP-9 cells. Reduction of (pro)MMP-9 expression by siRNAs restored RhoA activity and diminished PTEN levels. Our results reveal a novel function for (pro)MMP-9 in modulating signaling pathways leading to CLL cell arrest. Therefore, local high (pro)MMP-9 expression may contribute to malignant cell retention in lymphoid organs and disease progression.

Comprehensive molecular characterization of gastric adenocarcinoma.
Nature. 2014; 513(7517):202-9 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/09/2015 Related Publications
Gastric cancer is a leading cause of cancer deaths, but analysis of its molecular and clinical characteristics has been complicated by histological and aetiological heterogeneity. Here we describe a comprehensive molecular evaluation of 295 primary gastric adenocarcinomas as part of The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) project. We propose a molecular classification dividing gastric cancer into four subtypes: tumours positive for Epstein-Barr virus, which display recurrent PIK3CA mutations, extreme DNA hypermethylation, and amplification of JAK2, CD274 (also known as PD-L1) and PDCD1LG2 (also known as PD-L2); microsatellite unstable tumours, which show elevated mutation rates, including mutations of genes encoding targetable oncogenic signalling proteins; genomically stable tumours, which are enriched for the diffuse histological variant and mutations of RHOA or fusions involving RHO-family GTPase-activating proteins; and tumours with chromosomal instability, which show marked aneuploidy and focal amplification of receptor tyrosine kinases. Identification of these subtypes provides a roadmap for patient stratification and trials of targeted therapies.

Rohde M, Richter J, Schlesner M, et al.
Recurrent RHOA mutations in pediatric Burkitt lymphoma treated according to the NHL-BFM protocols.
Genes Chromosomes Cancer. 2014; 53(11):911-6 [PubMed] Related Publications
Burkitt lymphoma (BL) is the most frequent B-cell lymphoma in childhood. Genetically, it is characterized by the presence of an IG-MYC translocation which is supposed to be an initiating but not sufficient event in Burkitt lymphomagenesis. In a recent whole-genome sequencing study of four cases, we showed that the gene encoding the ras homolog family member A (RHOA) is recurrently mutated in pediatric BL. Here, we analyzed RHOA by Sanger sequencing in a cohort of 101 pediatric B-cell lymphoma patients treated according to Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma Berlin-Frankfurt-Münster (NHL-BFM) study protocols. Among the 78 BLs in this series, an additional five had RHOA mutations resulting in a total incidence of 7/82 (8.5%) with c.14G>A (p.R5Q) being present in three cases. Modeling the mutational effect suggests that most of them inactivate the RHOA protein. Thus, deregulation of RHOA by mutation is a recurrent event in Burkitt lymphomagenesis in children.

Liao XH, Wang N, Liu LY, et al.
MRTF-A and STAT3 synergistically promote breast cancer cell migration.
Cell Signal. 2014; 26(11):2370-80 [PubMed] Related Publications
Breast cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in women worldwide which is closely related to metastasis. But the exact molecular mechanism on metastasis is still not fully understood; we now report that both MRTF-A and STAT3 play important role in breast cancer migration of MDA-MB-231 cells. Moreover, MRTF-A and STAT3 synergistically increased MDA-MB-231 cell migration by promoting the expression of migration markers Myl-9 and Cyr-61. Importantly, we identified a detailed molecular mechanism of MDA-MB-231 cell migration controlled via physical interaction between MRTF-A and STAT3, which synergistically promote the transactivity of the migration marker Myl-9 and Cyr-61 by CArG box binding. Interestingly, the two signaling pathways RhoA-MRTF-A and JAK-STAT3 across talk to regulate MDA-MB-231 cell migration. Our data thus provide important and novel insights into the roles of MRTF-A and STAT3 in regulating MDA-MB-231 cell migration.

Asad M, Wong MK, Tan TZ, et al.
FZD7 drives in vitro aggressiveness in Stem-A subtype of ovarian cancer via regulation of non-canonical Wnt/PCP pathway.
Cell Death Dis. 2014; 5:e1346 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/09/2015 Related Publications
Ovarian cancer (OC) can be classified into five biologically distinct molecular subgroups: epithelial-A (Epi-A), Epi-B, mesenchymal (Mes), Stem-A and Stem-B. Among them, Stem-A expresses genes relating to stemness and is correlated with poor clinical prognosis. In this study, we show that frizzled family receptor 7 (FZD7), a receptor for Wnt signalling, is overexpressed in the Stem-A subgroup. To elucidate the functional roles of FZD7, we used an RNA interference gene knockdown approach in three Stem-A cell lines: CH1, PA1 and OV-17R. Si-FZD7 OC cells showed reduced cell proliferation with an increase in the G0/G1 sub-population, with no effect on apoptosis. The cells also displayed a distinctive morphologic change by colony compaction to become more epithelial-like and polarised with smaller internuclear distances and increased z-axis height. Immunofluorescence (IF) staining patterns of pan-cadherin and β-catenin suggested an increase in cadherin-based cell-cell adhesion in si-FZD7 cells. We also observed a significant rearrangement in the actin cytoskeleton and an increase in tensile contractility in si-FZD7 OC cells, as evident by the loss of stress fibres and the redistribution of phospho-myosin light chain (pMLC) from the sites of cell-cell contacts to the periphery of cell colonies. Furthermore, there was reciprocal regulation of RhoA (Ras homolog family member A) and Rac1 (Ras-related C3 botulinum toxin substrate 1 (Rho family, small GTP-binding protein Rac1)) activities upon FZD7 knockdown, with a significant reduction in RhoA activity and a concomitant upregulation in Rac1 activity. These changes in pMLC and RhoA, as well as the increased TopFlash reporter activities in si-FZD7 cells, suggested involvement of the non-canonical Wnt/planar cell polarity (PCP) pathway. Selected PCP pathway genes (cadherin EGF LAG seven-pass G-type receptor 3 (CELSR3), prickle homolog 4 (Drosophila) (PRICKLE4), dishevelled-associated activator of morphogenesis 1 (DAAM1), profilin 2 (PFN2), protocadherin 9 (PCDH9), protocadherin α1 (PCDHA1), protocadherin β17 pseudogene (PCDHB17), protocadherin β3 (PCDHB3), sprouty homolog 1 (SPRY1) and protein tyrosine kinase 7 (PTK7)) were found to be more highly expressed in Stem-A than non Stem-A subgroup of OC. Taken together, our results suggest that FZD7 might drive aggressiveness in Stem-A OC by regulating cell proliferation, cell cycle progression, maintenance of the Mes phenotype and cell migration via casein kinase 1ɛ-mediated non-canonical Wnt/PCP pathway.

Zhou J, Hayakawa Y, Wang TC, Bass AJ
RhoA mutations identified in diffuse gastric cancer.
Cancer Cell. 2014; 26(1):9-11 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/09/2015 Related Publications
The diffuse-type histologic variant of gastric cancer is characterized by highly invasive growth patterns and lack of cellular cohesion. Two recent studies have identified highly recurrent mutations of the gene encoding the small GTPase RhoA and suggest that RhoA activity may have a tumor suppressive role in this disease.

Lennon FE, Mirzapoiazova T, Mambetsariev N, et al.
Transactivation of the receptor-tyrosine kinase ephrin receptor A2 is required for the low molecular weight hyaluronan-mediated angiogenesis that is implicated in tumor progression.
J Biol Chem. 2014; 289(35):24043-58 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 29/08/2015 Related Publications
Angiogenesis or the formation of new blood vessels is important in the growth and metastatic potential of various cancers. Therefore, understanding the mechanism(s) by which angiogenesis occurs can have important therapeutic implications in numerous malignancies. We and others have demonstrated that low molecular weight hyaluronan (LMW-HA, ∼2500 Da) promotes endothelial cell (EC) barrier disruption and angiogenesis. However, the mechanism(s) by which this occurs is poorly defined. Our data indicate that treatment of human EC with LMW-HA induced CD44v10 association with the receptor-tyrosine kinase, EphA2, transactivation (tyrosine phosphorylation) of EphA2, and recruitment of the PDZ domain scaffolding protein, PATJ, to the cell periphery. Silencing (siRNA) CD44, EphA2, PATJ, or Dbs (RhoGEF) expression blocked LMW-HA-mediated angiogenesis (EC proliferation, migration, and tubule formation). In addition, silencing EphA2, PATJ, Src, or Dbs expression blocked LMW-HA-mediated RhoA activation. To translate our in vitro findings, we utilized a novel anginex/liposomal targeting of murine angiogenic endothelium with either CD44 or EphA2 siRNA and observed inhibition of LMW-HA-induced angiogenesis in implanted Matrigel plugs. Taken together, these results indicate LMW-HA-mediated transactivation of EphA2 is required for PATJ and Dbs membrane recruitment and subsequent RhoA activation required for angiogenesis. These results suggest that targeting downstream effectors of LMW-HA could be a useful therapeutic intervention for angiogenesis-associated diseases including tumor progression.

Fujita M, Imadome K, Endo S, et al.
Nitric oxide increases the invasion of pancreatic cancer cells via activation of the PI3K-AKT and RhoA pathways after carbon ion irradiation.
FEBS Lett. 2014; 588(17):3240-50 [PubMed] Related Publications
Previous studies have shown that serine proteases and Rho-associated kinase contribute to carbon ion radiation-enhanced invasion of the human pancreatic cancer cell line PANC-1. The results presented here show that nitric oxide synthase (NOS) also plays a critical role in this process. Irradiation of PANC-1 cells promoted invasion and production of nitric oxide (NO), which activated the PI3K-AKT signaling pathway, while independently activating RhoA. Inhibition of PI3K, Rho-associated kinase, and serine protease alone or in conjunction with NOS suppressed the radiation-enhanced invasion of PANC-1 cells, suggesting that they could serve as possible targets for the management of tumor metastasis.

Yan G, Zou R, Chen Z, et al.
Silencing RhoA inhibits migration and invasion through Wnt/β-catenin pathway and growth through cell cycle regulation in human tongue cancer.
Acta Biochim Biophys Sin (Shanghai). 2014; 46(8):682-90 [PubMed] Related Publications
Ras homolog gene family member A (RhoA) has been identified as a critical regulator of tumor aggressive behavior. In this study, we assessed the role of RhoA in the mechanisms underlying growth, migration, and invasion of squamous cell carcinoma of tongue (TSCC). Stable RhoA knockdown of TSCC cell lines SCC-4 and CAL27 were achieved using Lentiviral transfection. The effects of RhoA depletion on cell migration, invasion, and cell proliferation were determined. The possible underlying mechanism of RhoA depletion on TSCC cell line was also evaluated by determining the expression of Galectin-3 (Gal-3), β-catenin, and matrix metalloproteinase-9 (MMP-9) in vivo. Meanwhile, the underlying mechanism of TSCC growth was studied by analysis of cyclin D1/2, p21CIP1/WAF1, and p27Kip1 protein levels. Immunohistochemical assessments were performed to further prove the alteration of Gal-3 and β-catenin expression. We found that, in mice injected with human TSCC cells in the tongue, RhoA levels were higher in primary tumors and metastasized lymph nodes compared with those in the normal tissues. Silencing of RhoA significantly reduced the tumor growth, decreased the levels of Gal-3, β-catenin, MMP-9, and cyclin D1/2, and increased the levels of p21CIP1/WAF1 and p27Kip1. In vitro, RhoA knockdown also led to inhibition of cell migration, invasion, and proliferation. Our data suggest that RhoA plays a significant role in TSCC progression by regulating cell migration and invasion through Wnt/β-catenin signaling pathway and cell proliferation through cell cycle regulation, respectively. RhoA might be a novel therapeutic target of TSCC.

Purvanov V, Holst M, Khan J, et al.
G-protein-coupled receptor signaling and polarized actin dynamics drive cell-in-cell invasion.
Elife. 2014; 3 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 29/08/2015 Related Publications
Homotypic or entotic cell-in-cell invasion is an integrin-independent process observed in carcinoma cells exposed during conditions of low adhesion such as in exudates of malignant disease. Although active cell-in-cell invasion depends on RhoA and actin, the precise mechanism as well as the underlying actin structures and assembly factors driving the process are unknown. Furthermore, whether specific cell surface receptors trigger entotic invasion in a signal-dependent fashion has not been investigated. In this study, we identify the G-protein-coupled LPA receptor 2 (LPAR2) as a signal transducer specifically required for the actively invading cell during entosis. We find that G12/13 and PDZ-RhoGEF are required for entotic invasion, which is driven by blebbing and a uropod-like actin structure at the rear of the invading cell. Finally, we provide evidence for an involvement of the RhoA-regulated formin Dia1 for entosis downstream of LPAR2. Thus, we delineate a signaling process that regulates actin dynamics during cell-in-cell invasion.

Du T, Qu Y, Li J, et al.
Maternal embryonic leucine zipper kinase enhances gastric cancer progression via the FAK/Paxillin pathway.
Mol Cancer. 2014; 13:100 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 29/08/2015 Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Elevated MELK expression is featured in multiple tumors and correlated with tumorigenesis and tumor development. This study is aimed to investigate the mechanisms of MELK-mediated development of gastric cancer.
METHODS: MELK expression levels in human gastric cancer were determined by quantitative-PCR and immunohistochemistry. The effect of MELK on cell activity was explored by knockdown and overexpression experiments. Cell growth was measured using the CCK-8 assay. Apoptosis and cell cycle distributions were analyzed by flow cytometry. Migration and invasion were tested using a transwell migration assay. Cytoskeletal changes were analyzed by immunofluorescence. To explore the molecular mechanism and effect of MELK on migration and invasion, Western blotting was used to analyze the FAK/Paxillin pathway and pull down assays for the activity of small Rho GTPases. In vivo tumorigenicity and peritoneal metastasis experiments were performed by tumor cell engraftment into nude mice.
RESULTS: MELK mRNA and protein expression were both elevated in human gastric cancer, and this was associated with chemoresistance to 5-fluorouracil (5-FU). Knockdown of MELK significantly suppressed cell proliferation, migration and invasion of gastric cancer both in vitro and in vivo, decreased the percentages of cells in the G1/G0 phase and increased those in the G2/M and S phases. Moreover, knockdown of MELK decreased the amount of actin stress fibers and inhibited RhoA activity. Finally, knockdown of MELK decreased the phosphorylation of the FAK and paxillin, and prevented gastrin-stimulated FAK/paxillin phosphorylation. By contrast, MELK overexpression had the opposite effect.
CONCLUSIONS: MELK promotes cell migration and invasion via the FAK/Paxillin pathway, and plays an important role in the occurrence and development of gastric cancer. MELK may be a potential target for treatment against gastric cancer.

Deevi RK, Cox OT, O'Connor R
Essential function for PDLIM2 in cell polarization in three-dimensional cultures by feedback regulation of the β1-integrin-RhoA signaling axis.
Neoplasia. 2014; 16(5):422-31 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 29/08/2015 Related Publications
PDLIM2 is a cytoskeletal and nuclear PDZ-LIM domain protein that regulates the stability of Nuclear Factor kappa-B (NFκB) and other transcription factors, and is required for polarized cell migration. PDLIM2 expression is suppressed by methylation in different cancers, but is strongly expressed in invasive breast cancer cells that have undergone an Epithelial Mesenchymal Transition (EMT). PDLIM2 is also expressed in non-transformed breast myoepithelial MCF10A cells and here we asked whether it is important for maintaining the polarized, epithelial phenotype of these cells. Suppression of PDLIM2 in MCF10A cells was sufficient to disrupt cell polarization and acini formation with increased proliferation and reduced apoptosis in the luminal space compared to control acini with hollow lumina. Spheroids with suppressed PDLIM2 exhibited increased expression of cell-cell and cell-matrix adhesion proteins including beta 1 (β1) integrin. Interestingly, levels of the Insulin-like growth factor 1 receptor (IGF-1 R) and Receptor of activated protein kinase C 1 (RACK1), which scaffolds IGF-1R to β1 integrin, were also increased, indicating a transformed phenotype. Focal Adhesion Kinase (FAK) and cofilin phosphorylation, and RhoA Guanosine Triphosphatase (GTPase) activity were all enhanced in these spheroids compared to control acini. Importantly, inhibition of either FAK or Rho Kinase (ROCK) was sufficient to rescue the polarity defect. We conclude that PDLIM2 expression is essential for feedback regulation of the β1-integrin-RhoA signalling axis and integration of cellular microenvironment signals with gene expression to control the polarity of breast epithelial acini structures. This is a mechanism by which PDLIM2 could mediate tumour suppression in breast epithelium.

Lin L, Yang XM, Li J, et al.
Microfilament regulatory protein MENA increases activity of RhoA and promotes metastasis of hepatocellular carcinoma.
Exp Cell Res. 2014; 327(1):113-22 [PubMed] Related Publications
Mammalian enabled (MENA), usually known as a direct regulator of microfilament polymerization and bundling, promotes metastasis in various cancers. Here we focus on the role of MENA in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) metastasis and the relevant mechanism from the view of RhoA activity regulation. By HCC tissue microarray analysis, we found that MENA expression was positively associated with satellite lesions (P<0.01) and vascular invasion (P<0.01). Cases with membrane reinforcement of MENA staining in HCC tissues had significantly higher rates of early recurrence in the intermediate MENA expression group. Knockdown of MENA significantly suppressed HCC cell migration and invasion in vitro, as well as their intrahepatic and distant metastasis in vivo. Knockdown of MENA also decreased filopodia and stress fibers in SMMC-7721 cells. Furthermore, a decrease of RhoA activity was detected by a pull-down assay in SMMC-7721-shMENA cells. The ROCK inhibitor, Y-27632, suppressed migration of both MENA knockdown SMMC-7721 cells and control cells, but diminished their difference. Thus, our findings suggest that MENA promotes HCC cell motility by activating RhoA.

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