Gene Summary

Gene:LIMK1; LIM domain kinase 1
Aliases: LIMK, LIMK-1
Summary:There are approximately 40 known eukaryotic LIM proteins, so named for the LIM domains they contain. LIM domains are highly conserved cysteine-rich structures containing 2 zinc fingers. Although zinc fingers usually function by binding to DNA or RNA, the LIM motif probably mediates protein-protein interactions. LIM kinase-1 and LIM kinase-2 belong to a small subfamily with a unique combination of 2 N-terminal LIM motifs and a C-terminal protein kinase domain. LIMK1 is a serine/threonine kinase that regulates actin polymerization via phosphorylation and inactivation of the actin binding factor cofilin. This protein is ubiquitously expressed during development and plays a role in many cellular processes associated with cytoskeletal structure. This protein also stimulates axon growth and may play a role in brain development. LIMK1 hemizygosity is implicated in the impaired visuospatial constructive cognition of Williams syndrome. Alternative splicing results in multiple transcript variants encoding distinct isoforms.[provided by RefSeq, Feb 2011]
Databases:VEGA, OMIM, HGNC, Ensembl, GeneCard, Gene
Protein:LIM domain kinase 1
Source:NCBIAccessed: 15 March, 2017


What does this gene/protein do?
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Pathways:What pathways are this gene/protein implicaed in?
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Cancer Overview

Research Indicators

Publications Per Year (1992-2017)
Graph generated 15 March 2017 using data from PubMed using criteria.

Literature Analysis

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Tag cloud generated 15 March, 2017 using data from PubMed, MeSH and CancerIndex

Specific Cancers (6)

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: LIMK1 (cancer-related)

Zhang J, Zhang HY, Wang J, et al.
GL-1196 Suppresses the Proliferation and Invasion of Gastric Cancer Cells via Targeting PAK4 and Inhibiting PAK4-Mediated Signaling Pathways.
Int J Mol Sci. 2016; 17(4):470 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Gastric cancer, which is the most common malignant gastrointestinal tumor, has jumped to the third leading cause of cancer-related mortality worldwide. It is of great importance to identify novel and potent drugs for gastric cancer treatment. P21-activated kinase 4 (PAK4) has emerged as an attractive target for the development of anticancer drugs in consideration of its vital functions in tumorigenesis and progression. In this paper, we reported that GL-1196, as a small molecular compound, effectively suppressed the proliferation of human gastric cancer cells through downregulation of PAK4/c-Src/EGFR/cyclinD1 pathway and CDK4/6 expression. Moreover, GL-1196 prominently inhibited the invasion of human gastric cancer cells in parallel with blockage of the PAK4/LIMK1/cofilin pathway. Interestingly, GL-1196 also inhibited the formation of filopodia and induced cell elongation in SGC7901 and BGC823 cells. Taken together, these results provided novel insights into the potential therapeutic strategy for gastric cancer.

Guo B, Li X, Song S, et al.
(-)-β-hydrastine suppresses the proliferation and invasion of human lung adenocarcinoma cells by inhibiting PAK4 kinase activity.
Oncol Rep. 2016; 35(4):2246-56 [PubMed] Related Publications
(-)-β-hydrastine is one of the main active components of the medicinal plant, Hydrastis canadensis, which is used in many dietary supplements intended to enhance the immune system. However, whether (-)-β-hydrastine affects the tumor signaling pathway remains unexplored. In the present study, we found that (-)-β-hydrastine inhibited the kinase activity of p21-activated kinase 4 (PAK4), which is involved in the regulation of cytoskeletal reorganization, cell proliferation, gene transcription, oncogenic transformation and cell invasion. In the present study, (-)-β-hydrastine suppressed lung adenocarcinoma cell proliferation by inhibiting expression of cyclin D1/D3 and CDK2/4/6, leading to cell cycle arrest at the G1 phase, in a PAK4 kinase-dependent manner. Moreover, inhibition of PAK4 kinase activity by (-)-β-hydrastine also promoted the early apoptosis of lung adenocarcinoma cells through the mitochondrial apoptosis pathway. In addition, (-)-β-hydrastine significantly suppressed the migration and invasion of human lung adenocarcinoma cells in conjunction with concomitant blockage of the PAK4/LIMK1/cofilin, PAK4/SCG10 and PAK4/MMP2 pathways. All of these data indicate that (-)-β-hydrastine, as a novel PAK4 inhibitor, suppresses the proliferation and invasion of lung adenocarcinoma cells. Taken together, these results provide novel insight into the development of a PAK4 kinase inhibitor and a potential therapeutic strategy for lung cancer.

Sigloch FC, Burk UC, Biniossek ML, et al.
miR-200c dampens cancer cell migration via regulation of protein kinase A subunits.
Oncotarget. 2015; 6(27):23874-89 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Expression of miR-200c is a molecular switch to determine cellular fate towards a mesenchymal or epithelial phenotype. miR-200c suppresses the early steps of tumor progression by preventing epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) and intravasation of tumor cells. Unraveling the underlying molecular mechanisms might pinpoint to novel therapeutic options. To better understand these mechanisms it is crucial to identify targets of miR-200c. Here, we employ a combination of quantitative proteomic and bioinformatic strategies to identify novel miR-200c targets. We identify and confirm two subunits of the central cellular kinase protein kinase A (PKA), namely PRKAR1A and PRKACB, to be directly regulated by miR-200c. Notably, siRNA-mediated downregulation of both proteins phenocopies the migratory behavior of breast cancer cells after miR-200c overexpression. Patient data from publicly accessible databases supports a miR-200c-PKA axis. Thus, our study identifies the PKA heteroprotein as an important mediator of miR-200c induced repression of migration in breast cancer cells. By bioinformatics, we define a miRNA target cluster consisting of PRKAR1A, PRKAR2B, PRKACB, and COF2, which is targeted by a group of 14 miRNAs.

Li D, Zhang Y, Li Z, et al.
Activated Pak4 expression correlates with poor prognosis in human gastric cancer patients.
Tumour Biol. 2015; 36(12):9431-6 [PubMed] Related Publications
Despite considerable advances in gastrectomy and chemotherapy, the prognosis of gastric cancer (GC) has not noticeably improved due to lymph node or distant metastases. P21-activated serine/threonine kinase 4 (Pak4) plays an important role in cell morphology and cytoskeletal reorganization-both prerequisite steps for cell migration. However, it is still unclear if activated Pak4 (p-Pak4) is related to prognosis in GC patients. In our study, the level of p-Pak4 in 95 GC tissue specimens was examined by immunohistochemistry (IHC). We observed significant correlation between the level of p-Pak4 and grosstype (advanced stage GC vs. early stage GC, P = 0.04). Moreover, GC patients with higher p-Pak4 levels had a poorer prognosis than those with lower p-Pak4 levels (17 vs. 38 months, P = 0.001). Multivariate analysis showed that high phosphorylation level of Pak4, advanced stage GC, and lymph node metastasis were independent prognostic factors for GC patients (p-Pak4, P = 0.026; advanced stage GC, P = 0.030; lymph node metastasis, P = 0.016). In addition, in vitro assays indicated that knockdown of Pak4 accompanied with decreased p-Pak4, inhibited cell migration via downregulation of the traditional downstream signaling pathways of Pak4, LIMK1, and cofilin. In conclusion, this report reveals that high level of p-Pak4 correlates with poor prognosis in GC, thereby suggesting that p-Pak4 might be a potential prognostic marker for GC.

Lin L, Jiang H, Huang M, et al.
Depletion of histone deacetylase 1 inhibits metastatic abilities of gastric cancer cells by regulating the miR-34a/CD44 pathway.
Oncol Rep. 2015; 34(2):663-72 [PubMed] Related Publications
Overexpression of histone deacetylases (HDACs) is associated with higher metastatic rates and a poor prognosis in gastric cancer. However, the underlying mechanisms involved remain unclear. The present study aimed to investigate the molecular pathways that are involved in HDAC1-mediated metastatic activities in gastric cancer cells. First we used a microRNA (miRNA or miR) microarray to screen potential miRNAs whose expression can be altered by HDAC1 depletion. Of these miRNAs, miR-34a is important as it is often inactivated in cancer cells and acts as a tumor suppressor for various types of cancer. The reverse transcription-quantitative polymerase chain reaction (RT‑qPCR) results confirmed that miR-34a was upregulated by HDAC1 knockdown. Cells depleted of HDAC1 had lower abilities to migrate, invade and adhere, which were restored by a miR-34a antagomiR. Depletion of HDAC1 also resulted in impaired microfilaments and microtubules, while co-transfection of the miR-34a antagomiR attenuated these changes in the cellular cytoskeleton. The HDAC1/miR-34a axis regulated the expression and activation of CD44 and its downstream factors including Bcl-2, Ras homolog family member A (RhoA), LIM domain kinase 1 (LIMK-1) and matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)-2. The latter three proteins were responsible for the organization of tubulin and actin cytoskeleton and the formation of cellular pseudopodia. In conclusion, results of the present study indicated that HDAC1 depletion inhibits the metastatic abilities of gastric cancer cells by regulating the miRNA-34a/CD44 pathway, which may be a potential target for the treatment of gastric cancer.

Cai S, Ye Z, Wang X, et al.
Overexpression of P21-activated kinase 4 is associated with poor prognosis in non-small cell lung cancer and promotes migration and invasion.
J Exp Clin Cancer Res. 2015; 34:48 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
BACKGROUND: P21-activated kinase 4 (PAK4), an effector of the Rho family protein Cdc42, is an important oncogene whose expression is increased in many human cancers and is generally positively correlated with advanced disease and decreased survival. However, little is known about the expression and biological function of PAK4 in human non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).
METHODS: PAK4 expression in NSCLC tissues and adjacent non-tumor tissues were assessed by immunohistochemistry, real-time PCR, and western blotting. Prognostic value of PAK4 expression was evaluated by Kaplan-Meier analysis and Cox regression. siRNA-mediated gene silencing and protein kinase assay was applied to demonstrate the role and the mechanism of PAK4 in lung cancer cell migration, invasion.
RESULTS: The results showed that PAK4 was overexpressed in NSCLC cell lines and human NSCLC tissues. PAK4 expression was detected both in the membranes and cytoplasm of NSCLC cancer cells in vivo. Moreover, increased expression of PAK4 was associated with metastasis, shorter overall survival, advanced stage of NSCLC. Furthermore, PAK4 expression was positively correlated with phosphorylation of LIMK1 expression levels. Knockdown of PAK4 in NSCLC cell lines led to reduce the phosphorylation of LIMK1, which resulted in decrease of the cell migration and invasion. In addition, PAK4 bound to LIMK1 directly and activated it via phosphorylation.
CONCLUSIONS: These data demonstrate that PAK4 mediated LIMK1 phosphorylation regulates the migration and invasion in NSCLC. Therefore, PAK4 might be a significant prognostic marker and potential therapeutic molecular target in NSCLC.

Cai S, Chen R, Li X, et al.
Downregulation of microRNA-23a suppresses prostate cancer metastasis by targeting the PAK6-LIMK1 signaling pathway.
Oncotarget. 2015; 6(6):3904-17 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Here we found that levels of miR-23a were decreased in prostate cancer cell lines and tumor tissues. These low levels were associated with poor patients' prognosis. MiR-23a inhibited migration and invasion of prostate cancer in vivo and in orthotopic prostate cancer mice model. MiR-23a decreased levels of p21-activated kinase 6 (PAK6). Expression of miR-23a inhibited phosphorylation of LIM kinase 1 (LIMK1) and cofilin, in turn suppressing formation of stress fibers and actin filaments, which was required for cell motility and invasion. PAK6 bound to LIMK1 and activated it via phosphorylation at Thr-508. Also, PAK6 and LIMK1 were colocalized in the cytoplasma. Thus, miR-23a regulated cytoskeleton by affecting LIMK1 and cofilin. In summary, we have identified the miR-23a-PAK6-LIMK1 pathway of prostate cancer metastasis. Potential therapeutic approach by targeting miR-23 is suggested.

You T, Gao W, Wei J, et al.
Overexpression of LIMK1 promotes tumor growth and metastasis in gastric cancer.
Biomed Pharmacother. 2015; 69:96-101 [PubMed] Related Publications
Gastric cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer death in Asia. Despite improvement of therapies, the outcome in patients remains extremely poor because of metastasis. In the present study, we found that LIMK1 is overexpressed in gastric cancer, and its expression level correlate with tumor size, lymph node metastasis and TNM stage. Knockdown of LIMK1 expression could inhibit cell proliferation, migration and invasion in vitro, as well as suppress the activation of FAK/paxillin pathway. Moreover, knockdown of LIMK1 expression retarded tumor growth and peritoneal ametastasis in vivo. This highlights that LIMK1 might be used as a potential target in the treatment of gastric cancer.

Bhardwaj A, Srivastava SK, Singh S, et al.
CXCL12/CXCR4 signaling counteracts docetaxel-induced microtubule stabilization via p21-activated kinase 4-dependent activation of LIM domain kinase 1.
Oncotarget. 2014; 5(22):11490-500 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Emerging data highlight the significance of chemokine (C-X-C motif) ligand 12/chemokine (C-X-C motif) receptor 4 (CXCL12/CXCR4) signaling axis in the chemoresistance of several malignancies, including prostate cancer (PCa); however, underlying mechanisms remain largely elusive. Here, we demonstrate that CXCL12 treatment rescues the PCa cells from docetaxel (DTX)-induced toxicity by overriding its effect on cell cycle (G2/M phase arrest). We further demonstrate that the chemoprotective effect of CXCL12 is abolished upon pharmacological inhibition or RNA interference-mediated silencing of CXCR4. Moreover, microtubule stabilization caused by DTX is suppressed in CXCL12-stimulated PCa cells as revealed by immunofluorescence and immunoblot analyses. The effect of CXCL12 on microtubule stabilization is abrogated when PCa cells are pre-treated with a CXCR4 antagonist. In additional studies, we show that the chemoprotective action of CXCL12/CXCR4 signaling is mediated by p21-activated kinase 4 (PAK4)-dependent activation of Lim domain kinase 1 (LIMK1), and inhibition of either PAK4 or LIMK1 leads to re-sensitization of PCa cells to DTX-induced tubulin polymerization and cellular toxicity even in the presence of CXCL12. Altogether, our findings uncover a novel mechanism underlying CXCL12/CXCR4 signaling-induced PCa chemoresistance and suggest that targeting of this signaling axis or its downstream effector pathway could lead to therapeutic enhancement of DTX.

Mardilovich K, Gabrielsen M, McGarry L, et al.
Elevated LIM kinase 1 in nonmetastatic prostate cancer reflects its role in facilitating androgen receptor nuclear translocation.
Mol Cancer Ther. 2015; 14(1):246-58 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Prostate cancer affects a large proportion of the male population, and is primarily driven by androgen receptor (AR) activity. First-line treatment typically consists of reducing AR signaling by hormone depletion, but resistance inevitably develops over time. One way to overcome this issue is to block AR function via alternative means, preferably by inhibiting protein targets that are more active in tumors than in normal tissue. By staining prostate cancer tumor sections, elevated LIM kinase 1 (LIMK1) expression and increased phosphorylation of its substrate Cofilin were found to be associated with poor outcome and reduced survival in patients with nonmetastatic prostate cancer. A LIMK-selective small molecule inhibitor (LIMKi) was used to determine whether targeted LIMK inhibition was a potential prostate cancer therapy. LIMKi reduced prostate cancer cell motility, as well as inhibiting proliferation and increasing apoptosis in androgen-dependent prostate cancer cells more effectively than in androgen-independent prostate cancer cells. LIMK inhibition blocked ligand-induced AR nuclear translocation, reduced AR protein stability and transcriptional activity, consistent with its effects on proliferation and survival acting via inhibition of AR activity. Furthermore, inhibition of LIMK activity increased αTubulin acetylation and decreased AR interactions with αTubulin, indicating that the role of LIMK in regulating microtubule dynamics contributes to AR function. These results indicate that LIMK inhibitors could be beneficial for the treatment of prostate cancer both by reducing nuclear AR translocation, leading to reduced proliferation and survival, and by inhibiting prostate cancer cell dissemination.

Park JB, Agnihotri S, Golbourn B, et al.
Transcriptional profiling of GBM invasion genes identifies effective inhibitors of the LIM kinase-Cofilin pathway.
Oncotarget. 2014; 5(19):9382-95 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Malignant gliomas are highly proliferative and invasive neoplasms where total surgical resection is often impossible and effective local radiation therapy difficult. Consequently, there is a need to develop a greater understanding of the molecular events driving invasion and to identify novel treatment targets. Using microarray analysis comparing normal brain samples and mesenchymal glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), we identified over 140 significant genes involved in cell migration and invasion. The cofilin (CFL) pathway, which disassembles actin filaments, was highly up-regulated compared to normal brain. Up-regulation of LIM domain kinase 1 and 2 (LIMK1/2), that phosphorylates and inactivates cofilin, was confirmed in an additional independent data set comparing normal brain to GBM. We identified and utilized two small molecule inhibitors BMS-5 and Cucurbitacin I directed against the cofilin regulating kinases, LIMK1 and LIMK2, to target this pathway. Significant decreases in cell viability were observed in glioma cells treated with BMS-5 and Cucurbitacin I, while no cytotoxic effects were seen in normal astrocytes that lack LIMK. BMS-5 and Cucurbitacin I promoted increased adhesion in GBM cells, and decreased migration and invasion. Collectively, these data suggest that use of LIMK inhibitors may provide a novel way to target the invasive machinery in GBM.

Chen P, Zeng M, Zhao Y, Fang X
Upregulation of Limk1 caused by microRNA-138 loss aggravates the metastasis of ovarian cancer by activation of Limk1/cofilin signaling.
Oncol Rep. 2014; 32(5):2070-6 [PubMed] Related Publications
LIM kinase 1 (Limk1) is associated with cell prolife-ration and metastasis and its dysregulated expression has been observed in many types of cancer. The present study aimed to examine the role of Limk1 in the development of ovarian cancer, as well as the underlying molecular mechanism involved. The results showed that increased Limk1 and decreased miR-138 expression co-existed in ovarian cancer. Furthermore, knockout of Limk1 or the overexpression of miR-138 resulted in reduced cell invasion and migration, while silencing of miR-138 led to enhancement of the invasion and migration of ovarian cancer cells. Cell growth was inhibited by the overexpression of miR-138, although not by the knockout of Limk1. miR-138 directly targeted Limk1 and inhibited ovarian cancer cell growth by PCNA and Bcl-2. Moreover, Limk1/cofilin/p-cofilin is likely a critical signaling pathway involving in miR-138 modulation of ovarian cancer cell metastasis. The results provide evidence supporting miR-138/Limk1 as a novel diagnostic or therapeutic target for ovarian cancer.

Zhou J, Liu R, Luo C, et al.
MiR-20a inhibits cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma metastasis and proliferation by directly targeting LIMK1.
Cancer Biol Ther. 2014; 15(10):1340-9 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
BACKGROUND: MicroRNA-20a (miR-20a) plays a key role in tumorigenesis and progression. But its function is reverse in different kinds of malignant tumor, and its role and mechanism in cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma (CSCC) remains unclear.
OBJECT: To determine the miR-20a's roles in CSCC and confirm whether LIMK1 is a direct target gene of miR-20a.
METHODS: First miR-20a and LIMK1 expression levels were detected in six pairs of CSCC tissues and corresponding normal skin by qRT-PCR. Then MTT assays and colony formation assays were performed to evaluate the impact of miR-20a on cell proliferation. In addition, scratch migration assays and transwell invasion assays were performed to check miR-20a's effect on cell metastasis. Since LIMK1 (LIM kinase-1) was predicted as a target gene of miR-20a, the changes of LIMK1 protein and mRNA were measured by western blot and qRT-RCR methods after miR-20a overexpression. Moreover the dual reporter gene assay was performed to confirm whether LIMK1 is a direct target gene of miR-20a. Finally LIMK1 mRNA and miR-20a in other 30 cases of CSCC pathological specimens were determined and a correlation analysis was evaluated.
RESULTS: The miR-20a significantly low-expressed in CSCC tissues compared with that in matched normal tissues while LIMK1 has a relative higher expression. MiR-20a inhibited A431 and SCL-1 proliferation and metastasis. Both of LIMK1 protein and mRNA levels were downregulated after miR-20a overexpression. The dual reporter gene assays revealed that LIMK1 is a direct target gene of miR-20a. Furthermore, qRT-PCR results of LIMK1 mRNA and miR-20a in 30 cases of CSCC pathological specimens showed miR-20a is inversely correlated with LIMK1 expression.
CONCLUSION: Our study demonstrated that miR-20a is involved in the tumor inhibition of CSCC by directly targeting LIMK1 gene. This finding provides potential novel strategies for therapeutic interventions of CSCC.

Guemann AS, Andrieux J, Petit F, et al.
ELN gene triplication responsible for familial supravalvular aortic aneurysm.
Cardiol Young. 2015; 25(4):712-7 [PubMed] Related Publications
Supravalvular aortic aneurysms are less frequent than abdominal ones. Among Supravalvular aortic aneurysm aetiologies, we focused on dystrophic lesions as they can be secondary to genetic causes such as elastin anomaly. We report on a familial 7q11.23 triplication - including the ELN gene - segregating with a supravalvular aortic aneurysm. During her first pregnancy, our index patient was diagnosed with tuberous sclerosis and with a Supravalvular aortic aneurysm. The foetus was affected equally. For the second pregnancy, parents applied for preimplantation diagnosis, and a subsequent prenatal diagnosis was offered to the couple, comprising TSC1 molecular analysis, karyotype, and multiplex ligation probe amplification. TSC1 mutation was not found on foetal deoxyribo nucleic acid. Foetal karyotype was normal, but multiplex ligation probe amplification detected a 7q11.23 duplication. Quantitative-polymerase chain reaction and array-comparative genomic hybridisation carried out to further assess this chromosome imbalance subsequently identified a 7q11.23 triplication involving ELN and LIMK1. Foetal heart ultrasound identified a Supravalvular aortic aneurysm. A familial screening was offered for the 7q11.23 triplication and, when found, heart ultrasound was performed. The triplication was diagnosed in our index case as well as in her first child. Of the 17 individuals from this family, 11 have the triplication. Of the 11 individuals with the triplication, 10 were identified to have a supravalvular aortic aneurysm. Of them, two individuals received a medical treatment and one individual needed surgery. We provide evidence of supravalvular aortic aneurysm segregating with 7q11.23 triplication in this family. We would therefore recommend cardiac surveillance for individuals with 7q11.23 triplication. It would also be interesting to offer a quantitative-polymerase chain reaction or an array-comparative genomic hybridisation to a larger cohort of patients presenting with isolated supravalvular aortic aneurysm, as it may provide further information.

Xiong Y, Zhang L, Kebebew E
MiR-20a is upregulated in anaplastic thyroid cancer and targets LIMK1.
PLoS One. 2014; 9(5):e96103 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
BACKGROUND: There have been conflicting reports regarding the function of miR-20a in a variety of cancer types and we previously found it to be dysregulated in sporadic versus familial papillary thyroid cancer. In this study, we studied the expression of miR-20a in normal, benign and malignant thyroid samples, and its effect on thyroid cancer cells in vitro and in vivo.
METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: The expression of miR-20a in normal, benign and malignant thyroid tissue was determined by quantitative RT-PCR. Thyroid cancer cells were transfected with miR-20a and the effect on cellular proliferation, tumor spheroid formation, and invasion was evaluated. Target genes of miR-20 were determined by genome-wide mRNA expression analysis with miR-20a overexpression in thyroid cancer cells and target prediction database. Target genes were validated by quantitative PCR and immunoblotting, and luciferase assays. MiR-20a expression was significantly higher in anaplastic thyroid cancer than in differentiated thyroid cancer, and benign and normal thyroid tissues. MiR-20a significantly inhibited thyroid cancer cell proliferation in vitro (p<0.01) and in vivo (p<0.01), tumor spheroid formation (p<0.05) and invasion (p<0.05) in multiple thyroid cancer cell lines. We found that LIMK1 was a target of miR-20a in thyroid cancer cell lines and direct knockdown of LIMK1 recapitulated the effect of miR-20a in thyroid cancer cells.
CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: To our knowledge, this is the first study to demonstrate that miR-20a plays a role as a tumor suppressor in thyroid cancer cells and targets LIMK1. Our findings suggest the upregulated expression of miR-20a in anaplastic thyroid cancer counteracts thyroid cancer progression and may have therapeutic potential.

Oku Y, Tareyanagi C, Takaya S, et al.
Multimodal effects of small molecule ROCK and LIMK inhibitors on mitosis, and their implication as anti-leukemia agents.
PLoS One. 2014; 9(3):e92402 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Accurate chromosome segregation is vital for cell viability. Many cancer cells show chromosome instability (CIN) due to aberrant expression of the genes involved in chromosome segregation. The induction of massive chromosome segregation errors in such cancer cells by small molecule inhibitors is an emerging strategy to kill these cells selectively. Here we screened and characterized small molecule inhibitors which cause mitotic chromosome segregation errors to target cancer cell growth. We screened about 300 chemicals with known targets, and found that Rho-associated coiled-coil kinase (ROCK) inhibitors bypassed the spindle assembly checkpoint (SAC), which delays anaphase onset until proper kinetochore-microtubule interactions are established. We investigated how ROCK inhibitors affect chromosome segregation, and found that they induced microtubule-dependent centrosome fragmentation. Knockdown of ROCK1 and ROCK2 revealed their additive roles in centrosome integrity. Pharmacological inhibition of LIMK also induced centrosome fragmentation similar to that by ROCK inhibitors. Inhibition of ROCK or LIMK hyper-stabilized mitotic spindles and impaired Aurora-A activation. These results suggested that ROCK and LIMK are directly or indirectly involved in microtubule dynamics and activation of Aurora-A. Furthermore, inhibition of ROCK or LIMK suppressed T cell leukemia growth in vitro, but not peripheral blood mononuclear cells. They induced centrosome fragmentation and apoptosis in T cell leukemia cells. These results suggested that ROCK and LIMK can be a potential target for anti-cancer drugs.

Wan L, Zhang L, Fan K, Wang J
MiR-27b targets LIMK1 to inhibit growth and invasion of NSCLC cells.
Mol Cell Biochem. 2014; 390(1-2):85-91 [PubMed] Related Publications
Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), which accounts for ~80 % of lung cancer cases, is one of the most common causes for cancer-related death. microRNAs (miRNAs) have been found to play critical roles in the development and progression of NSCLC. miR-27b has recently been reported as a tumor suppressor in several cancers, but its role in NSCLC remains poorly understood. In this study, we found that miR-27b was remarkably decreased in both NSCLC tissues and cell lines. Moreover, overexpression of miR-27b significantly suppressed NSCLC cells proliferation and invasion. LIM kinase 1 (LIMK1), an essential protein for malignant transformation, was found to be a target of miR-27b. Ectopic expression of LIMK1 dramatically dampened mir-27b action of cancer inhibition. Finally, LIMK1 was found to be negatively correlated with miR-27b in NSCLC patients. Our results demonstrated a tumor-suppressive role of miR-27b in NSCLC, suggesting a potential therapeutic target for NSCLC.

Zhang HS, Zhao JW, Wang H, et al.
LIM kinase 1 is required for insulin‑dependent cell growth of osteosarcoma cell lines.
Mol Med Rep. 2014; 9(1):103-8 [PubMed] Related Publications
Osteosarcoma is a type of malignant bone tumor with high metastasis and poor prognosis. Previous studies have demonstrated the involvement of LIM kinase 1 (LIMK1) in the proliferation of osteosarcoma cells. LIMK1 is overexpressed in human osteosarcoma tissues and cell lines. To further study LIMK1-associated mechanisms, we used shRNA targeted to the LIMK1 gene to block its expression in the osteosarcoma cell lines MG63 and U2OS. Insulin promoted the proliferation of MG63 cells in a time- and dose-dependent manner, however, this insulin induced proliferation was significantly inhibited by transfection of shRNA targeted to the LIMK1 gene, as well as by the PI3K inhibitor LY294002, but not by the mitogen‑activated protein kinase (MAPK) inhibitor PD98059. The level of cofilin phosphorylation was increased significantly following stimulation of insulin for 24 h, indicating the activation of LIMK1. MG63 cell proliferation was also significantly inhibited by 1,25-dihydroxy vitamin D3 (1,25(OH)2D3) in a time-dependent manner. Furthermore, 1,25(OH)2D3 negated the inhibitory effect of LIMK1 shRNA, indicating that LIMK1 is important in the inhibitory pathway of 1,25(OH)2D3. The present study confirms that LIMK1 is important in regulating osteosarcoma cell proliferation via the insulin/PI3K/LIMK1 signaling pathway, thus the development of gene therapy for osteosarcoma targeting LIMK1 is warranted.

Häbig K, Gellhaar S, Heim B, et al.
LRRK2 guides the actin cytoskeleton at growth cones together with ARHGEF7 and Tropomyosin 4.
Biochim Biophys Acta. 2013; 1832(12):2352-67 [PubMed] Related Publications
Mutations in the leucine-rich repeat kinase 2 (LRRK2) gene represent the most common genetic cause of Parkinson's disease (PD). However, LRRK2 function and molecular mechanisms causing the parkinsonian phenotype remain widely unknown. Most of LRRK2 knockdown and overexpression models strengthen the relevance of LRRK2 in regulating neurite outgrowth. We have recently identified ARHGEF7 as the first guanine nucleotide exchange factor (GEF) of LRRK2. This GEF is influencing neurite outgrowth through regulation of actin polymerization. Here, we examined the expression profile of neuroblastoma cells with reduced LRRK2 and ARHGEF7 levels to identify additional partners of LRRK2 in this process. Tropomyosins (TPMs), and in particular TPM4, were the most interesting candidates next to other actin cytoskeleton regulating transcripts in this dataset. Subsequently, enhanced neurite branching was shown using primary hippocampal neurons of LRRK2 knockdown animals. Furthermore, we observed an enhanced number of growth cones per neuron and a mislocalization and dysregulation of ARHGEF7 and TPM4 in these neuronal compartments. Our results reveal a fascinating connection between the neurite outgrowth phenotype of LRRK2 models and the regulation of actin polymerization directing further investigations of LRRK2-related pathogenesis.

Chen Q, Jiao D, Hu H, et al.
Downregulation of LIMK1 level inhibits migration of lung cancer cells and enhances sensitivity to chemotherapy drugs.
Oncol Res. 2013; 20(11):491-8 [PubMed] Related Publications
LIM kinase 1 (LIMK1) is a member of a novel class of serine-threonine protein kinases, which plays an important role in malignant transformation. High expression of LIM kinase 1 (LIMK1) has been detected in various invasive cancers. Here, we showed that LIMK1 was overexpressed in non-small cell lung cancer tissues (NSCLC) and cell lines. Expression of LIMK1 was detected in 115 of 150 lung cancer tissues, the frequency being more significant than in lung tissues. In addition, overexpression of LIMK1 was also associated with high TNM stage and lymph node metastasis in NSCLC patients. Moreover, RNAi-mediated suppression of LIMK1 expression markedly inhibited migration and invasion of 801D lung cancer cells. Furthermore, silencing of LIMK1 sensitized 801D cells to chemotherapeutic drugs of cisplatin and gemcitabine. These results indicate that the overexpression of LIMK1 is tightly associated with an aggressive phenotype of lung cancer cells, knockdown of LIMK1 suppressed cell migration and invasion, enhanced chemosensitivity, suggesting a potential therapeutic target for lung cancer.

Petrilli A, Copik A, Posadas M, et al.
LIM domain kinases as potential therapeutic targets for neurofibromatosis type 2.
Oncogene. 2014; 33(27):3571-82 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Neurofibromatosis type 2 (NF2) is caused by mutations in the NF2 gene that encodes a tumor-suppressor protein called merlin. NF2 is characterized by formation of multiple schwannomas, meningiomas and ependymomas. Merlin loss-of-function is associated with increased activity of Rac and p21-activated kinases (PAKs) and deregulation of cytoskeletal organization. LIM domain kinases (LIMK1 and 2) are substrate for Cdc42/Rac-PAK and modulate actin dynamics by phosphorylating cofilin at serine-3. This modification inactivates the actin severing and depolymerizing activity of cofilin. LIMKs also translocate into the nucleus and regulate cell cycle progression. Significantly, LIMKs are overexpressed in several tumor types, including skin, breast, lung, liver and prostate. Here we report that mouse Schwann cells (MSCs) in which merlin function is lost as a result of Nf2 exon2 deletion (Nf2(ΔEx2)) exhibited increased levels of LIMK1, LIMK2 and active phospho-Thr508/505-LIMK1/2, as well as phospho-Ser3-cofilin, compared with wild-type normal MSCs. Similarly, levels of LIMK1 and 2 total protein and active phosphorylated forms were elevated in human vestibular schwannomas compared with normal human Schwann cells (SCs). Reintroduction of wild-type NF2 into Nf2(ΔEx2) MSC reduced LIMK1 and LIMK2 levels. We show that pharmacological inhibition of LIMK with BMS-5 decreased the viability of Nf2(ΔEx2) MSCs in a dose-dependent manner, but did not affect viability of control MSCs. Similarly, LIMK knockdown decreased viability of Nf2(ΔEx2) MSCs. The decreased viability of Nf2(ΔEx2) MSCs was not due to caspase-dependent or -independent apoptosis, but rather due to inhibition of cell cycle progression as evidenced by accumulation of cells in G2/M phase. Inhibition of LIMKs arrests cells in early mitosis by decreasing aurora A activation. Our results suggest that LIMKs are potential drug targets for NF2 and tumors associated with merlin deficiency.

Lourenço FC, Munro J, Brown J, et al.
Reduced LIMK2 expression in colorectal cancer reflects its role in limiting stem cell proliferation.
Gut. 2014; 63(3):480-93 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
OBJECTIVE: Colorectal cancer (CRC) is a major contributor to cancer mortality and morbidity. LIM kinase 2 (LIMK2) promotes tumour cell invasion and metastasis. The objectives of this study were to determine how LIMK2 expression is associated with CRC progression and patient outcome, and to use genetically modified Drosophila and mice to determine how LIMK2 deletion affects gastrointestinal stem cell regulation and tumour development.
DESIGN: LIMK2 expression and activity were measured by immunostaining tumours from CRC-prone mice, human CRC cell lines and 650 human tumours. LIMK knockdown in Drosophila or Limk2 deletion in mice allowed for assessment of their contributions to gastrointestinal stem cell homeostasis and tumour development.
RESULTS: LIMK2 expression was reduced in intestinal tumours of cancer-prone mice, as well as in human CRC cell lines and tumours. Reduced LIMK2 expression and substrate phosphorylation were associated with shorter patient survival. Genetic analysis in Drosophila midgut and intestinal epithelial cells isolated from genetically modified mice revealed a conserved role for LIMK2 in constraining gastrointestinal stem cell proliferation. Limk2 deletion increased colon tumour size in a colitis-associated colorectal mouse cancer model.
CONCLUSIONS: This study revealed that LIMK2 expression and activity progressively decrease with advancing stage, and supports the hypothesis that there is selective pressure for reduced LIMK2 expression in CRC to relieve negative constraints imposed upon gastrointestinal stem cells.

Erkutlu I, Cigiloglu A, Kalender ME, et al.
Correlation between Rho-kinase pathway gene expressions and development and progression of glioblastoma multiforme.
Tumour Biol. 2013; 34(2):1139-44 [PubMed] Related Publications
Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) is the most common and the most aggressive primary malignant tumor of the brain. Prognostic factors in GBM can be sorted as age, tumor localization, tumor diameter, symptom period and type, the extent of surgery, postoperative tumor volume, and adjuvant radiotherapy and/or chemotherapy status. Besides the interactions between actin microfilaments, microtubules, and intermediate filaments, environmental factors and intracellular signals which regulate them affect the cell invasion. Rho proteins and therefore Rho-kinase activation play important role at these changes. The aim of this study is to evaluate the relationship between the Rho-kinase pathway gene expressions and prognosis in GBM. Ninety-eight patients diagnosed as GBM between 2001 and 2010 were enrolled into the study. RNA was obtained from the paraffinized tumor tissue of the patients with formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded RNA isolation kit and the mRNA expressions of 26 genes were investigated. There was a statistically significant negative correlation between the ages at the diagnosis and survival. There was a significant relationship between the overexpression of Rho-kinase pathway-related genes LIMK1, CFL1, CFL2, and BCL2 and low expression of MAPK1 gene and the survival of the patients. These results demonstrate for the first time that there is a marked contribution of Rho-kinase pathway-related genes to the progression and survival of the GBM. The expression of these genes may be related to response of multimodal therapy or these parameters could be used to determine possible unresponsive patients before treatment.

Li R, Doherty J, Antonipillai J, et al.
LIM kinase inhibition reduces breast cancer growth and invasiveness but systemic inhibition does not reduce metastasis in mice.
Clin Exp Metastasis. 2013; 30(4):483-95 [PubMed] Related Publications
Metastasis is the major cause of morbidity and mortality in cancer patients. An understanding of the genes that regulate metastasis and development of therapies to target these genes is needed urgently. Since members of the LIM kinase (LIMK) family are key regulators of the actin cytoskeleton and are involved in cell motility and invasion, LIMK is considered to be a good therapeutic target for metastatic disease. Here we investigated the consequences of LIMK inhibition on growth and metastasis of human and mouse mammary tumors. LIMK activity was reduced in tumor cells by expression of dominant-negative LIMK1, by RNA interference or with a selective LIMK inhibitor. The extent of phosphorylation of the LIMK substrate, cofilin, of proliferation and invasion in 2D and 3D culture and of tumor growth and metastasis in mice were assessed. Inhibition of LIMK activity efficiently reduced the pro-invasive properties of tumor cells in vitro. Tumors expressing dominant-negative LIMK1 grew more slowly and were less metastatic in mice. However, systemic administration of a LIMK inhibitor did not reduce either primary tumor growth or spontaneous metastasis. Surprisingly, metastasis to the liver was increased after administration of the inhibitor. These data raise a concern about the use of systemic LIMK inhibitors for the treatment of metastatic breast cancer.

Tabusa H, Brooks T, Massey AJ
Knockdown of PAK4 or PAK1 inhibits the proliferation of mutant KRAS colon cancer cells independently of RAF/MEK/ERK and PI3K/AKT signaling.
Mol Cancer Res. 2013; 11(2):109-21 [PubMed] Related Publications
The p21-activated kinase (PAK) serine/threonine kinases are important effectors of the small GTPases Rac and Cdc42, and play significant roles in controlling cell growth, motility, and transformation. Knockdown of PAK4 or PAK1 inhibited the proliferation of mutant KRAS or BRAF colon cancer cells in vitro. Dependence on PAK4 or PAK1 protein for colon cancer cell proliferation was independent of PAK4 or PAK1 protein expression levels. Mutant KRAS HCT116 colorectal cells were the most sensitive to PAK4 or PAK1 knockdown resulting in the potent inhibition of anchorage-dependent and -independent proliferation as well as the formation and proliferation of HCT116 colon cancer spheroids. This inhibition of proliferation did not correlate with inhibition of RAF/MEK/ERK or PI3K/AKT signaling. In HCT116 cells, knockdown of PAK4 or PAK1 caused changes to the actin cytoskeleton resulting in reduced basal spread and cell elongation and increased cell rounding. These cytoskeletal rearrangements seemed to be independent of LIMK/cofilin/paxillin phosphorylation. PAK4 or PAK1 knockdown initially induced growth arrest in HCT116 cells followed by cell death at later time points. Inhibition of the antiapoptotic proteins Bcl-2 and Bcl-X(L) with the pharmacologic inhibitor ABT-737 increased effector caspase activation and apoptosis, and reduced cell survival with PAK4 or PAK1 knockdown. These results support a role for the PAKs in the proliferation of mutant KRAS-driven colorectal carcinoma cells via pathways not involving RAF/MEK/ERK and PI3K/AKT signaling.

Zhou Y, Su J, Shi L, et al.
DADS downregulates the Rac1-ROCK1/PAK1-LIMK1-ADF/cofilin signaling pathway, inhibiting cell migration and invasion.
Oncol Rep. 2013; 29(2):605-12 [PubMed] Related Publications
The aim of this study was to explore the molecular mechanisms of the diallyl disulfide (DADS)-mediated downregulation of LIM kinase-1 (LIMK1) and the consequent inhibition of the migration and invasion of human colorectal cancer cells. RNA interference technology was used to establish stable LIMK1-miRNA/SW480 cell lines. The effects of DADS and LIMK1 RNA interference on the migration and invasion of SW480 cells were observed by scratch wound healing assay and Transwell migration assay. The effects of DADS on signaling molecules of the Rac1-Rho kinase (ROCK)1/p21-activated kinase (PAK)1-LIM kinase (LIMK)1-actin depolymerizing factor (ADF)/cofilin pathway in SW480 cells were examined by RT-PCR and western blot analysis. The healing and migration rate of the SW480 cells was significantly reduced and the cell penetrating ability was significantly suppressed (P<0.05) following treatment with DADS (45 mg/l). The immunohistochemistry and western blot analysis results showed that DADS significantly downregulated LIMK1 protein expression and suppressed LIMK1 protein phosphorylation. Furthermore, the RT-PCR and western blot analysis results revealed that DADS suppressed Rac1, ROCK1, PAK1, LIMK1 and destrin mRNA and protein expression, as well as the protein phosphorylation of LIMK1 and cofilin 1. The data demonstrate that LIMK1 expression positively correlates with the SW480 cell migration and invasion ability. DADS downregulates the Rac1-ROCK1/PAK1-LIMK1-ADF/cofilin signaling pathway, suppressing SW480 cell migration and invasion.

Zhang W, Gan N, Zhou J
Immunohistochemical investigation of the correlation between LIM kinase 1 expression and development and progression of human ovarian carcinoma.
J Int Med Res. 2012; 40(3):1067-73 [PubMed] Related Publications
OBJECTIVES: LIM kinase 1 (LIMK1) is implicated in cellular mechanisms regulating tumour cell invasion and may be involved in ovarian carcinoma progression. This retrospective study, therefore, investigated expression of the LIMK1 gene in primary ovarian tumour tissue samples and evaluated the correlation between LIMK1 gene expression and progression of ovarian carcinoma.
METHODS: LIMK1 protein levels were detected by immunohistochemistry in ovarian tissue samples from 57 patients with primary ovarian epithelial tumours (benign, n = 13; borderline, n = 14; carcinoma, n = 30) and 10 patients with normal ovaries. LIMK1 protein levels were evaluated by calculating the product of the scores for stain intensity and percentage of cells stained.
RESULTS: There was a significant correlation between increasing LIMK1 protein levels and increasing disease severity, from normal ovarian tissues through benign and borderline tumours to ovarian carcinoma. There was also a significant correlation between increasing LIMK1 protein levels and increasingly poor levels of differentiation of ovarian carcinoma.
CONCLUSIONS: LIMK1 is associated with the development of ovarian cancer and with the level of tumour differentiation in patients with ovarian carcinoma.

Upadhyaya M, Spurlock G, Thomas L, et al.
Microarray-based copy number analysis of neurofibromatosis type-1 (NF1)-associated malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumors reveals a role for Rho-GTPase pathway genes in NF1 tumorigenesis.
Hum Mutat. 2012; 33(4):763-76 [PubMed] Related Publications
Neurofibromatosis type-1 (NF1) is associated with the growth of benign and malignant tumors. Approximately 15% of NF1 patients develop malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumors (MPNSTs), underlining the need to identify specific diagnostic/prognostic biomarkers associated with MPNST development. The Affymetrix Genome-Wide Human single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) Array 6.0 was used to perform SNP genotyping and copy number alteration (CNA), loss-of-heterozygosity (LOH), and copy number neutral-LOH (CNN-LOH) analyses of DNA isolated from 15 MPNSTs, five benign plexiform neurofibromas (PNFs), and patient-matched lymphocyte DNAs. MPNSTs exhibited high-level CNN-LOH, with recurrent changes occurring in MPNSTs but not PNFs. CNN-LOH was evident in MPNSTs but occurred less frequently than genomic deletions. CNAs involving the ITGB8, PDGFA, Ras-related C3 botulinum toxin substrate 1 (RAC1) (7p21-p22), PDGFRL (8p22-p21.3), and matrix metallopeptidase 12 (MMP12) (11q22.3) genes were specific to MPNSTs. Pathway analysis revealed the MPNST-specific amplification of seven Rho-GTPase pathway genes and several cytoskeletal remodeling/cell adhesion genes. In knockdown experiments employing short-hairpin RAC1, ROCK2, PTK2, and LIMK1 RNAs to transfect both control and MPNST-derived cell lines, cell adhesion was significantly increased in the MPNST cell lines, whereas wound healing, cell migration, and invasiveness were reduced, consistent with a role for these Rho-GTPase pathway genes in MPNST development and metastasis. These results suggest new targets for therapeutic intervention in relation to MPNSTs.

Hosono Y, Yamaguchi T, Mizutani E, et al.
MYBPH, a transcriptional target of TTF-1, inhibits ROCK1, and reduces cell motility and metastasis.
EMBO J. 2012; 31(2):481-93 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Cell migration driven by actomyosin filament assembly is a critical step in tumour invasion and metastasis. Herein, we report identification of myosin binding protein H (MYBPH) as a transcriptional target of TTF-1 (also known as NKX2-1 and TITF1), a master regulator of lung development that also plays a role as a lineage-survival oncogene in lung adenocarcinoma development. MYBPH inhibited assembly competence-conferring phosphorylation of the myosin regulatory light chain (RLC) as well as activating phosphorylation of LIM domain kinase (LIMK), unexpectedly through its direct physical interaction with Rho kinase 1 (ROCK1) rather than with RLC. Consequently, MYBPH inhibited ROCK1 and negatively regulated actomyosin organization, which in turn reduced single cell motility and increased collective cell migration, resulting in decreased cancer invasion and metastasis. Finally, we also show that MYBPH is epigenetically inactivated by promoter DNA methylation in a fraction of TTF-1-positive lung adenocarcinomas, which appears to be in accordance with its deleterious functions in lung adenocarcinoma invasion and metastasis, as well as with the paradoxical association of TTF-1 expression with favourable prognosis in lung adenocarcinoma patients.

Zhang J, Wang J, Guo Q, et al.
LCH-7749944, a novel and potent p21-activated kinase 4 inhibitor, suppresses proliferation and invasion in human gastric cancer cells.
Cancer Lett. 2012; 317(1):24-32 [PubMed] Related Publications
P21-activated kinase 4 (PAK4), a serine/threonine protein kinase, has involved in the regulation of cytoskeletal reorganization, cell proliferation, gene transcription, oncogenic transformation and cell invasion. Moreover, PAK4 overexpression, genetic amplification and mutations were detected in a variety of human tumors, which make it potential therapeutic target. In this paper we found that LCH-7749944, a novel and potent PAK4 inhibitor, effectively suppressed the proliferation of human gastric cancer cells through downregulation of PAK4/c-Src/EGFR/cyclin D1 pathway. In addition, LCH-7749944 significantly inhibited the migration and invasion of human gastric cancer cells in conjunction with concomitant blockage of PAK4/LIMK1/cofilin and PAK4/MEK-1/ERK1/2/MMP2 pathways. Interestingly, LCH-7749944 also inhibited the formation of filopodia and induced cell elongation in SGC7901 cells. Importantly, LCH-7749944 caused successful inhibition of EGFR activity due to its inhibitory effect on PAK4. Taken together, these results provided novel insights into the development of PAK4 inhibitor and potential therapeutic strategies for gastric cancer.

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