Gene Summary

Gene:PAK1; p21 (RAC1) activated kinase 1
Aliases: IDDMSSD, PAKalpha
Summary:This gene encodes a family member of serine/threonine p21-activating kinases, known as PAK proteins. These proteins are critical effectors that link RhoGTPases to cytoskeleton reorganization and nuclear signaling, and they serve as targets for the small GTP binding proteins Cdc42 and Rac. This specific family member regulates cell motility and morphology. Alternatively spliced transcript variants encoding different isoforms have been found for this gene. [provided by RefSeq, Apr 2010]
Databases:OMIM, HGNC, Ensembl, GeneCard, Gene
Protein:serine/threonine-protein kinase PAK 1
Source:NCBIAccessed: 31 August, 2019


What does this gene/protein do?
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Pathways:What pathways are this gene/protein implicaed in?
Show (19)

Cancer Overview

Research Indicators

Publications Per Year (1994-2019)
Graph generated 31 August 2019 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.

Tag cloud generated 31 August, 2019 using data from PubMed, MeSH and CancerIndex

Specific Cancers (5)

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: PAK1 (cancer-related)

Li X, Zhu J, Liu Y, et al.
MicroRNA-331-3p inhibits epithelial-mesenchymal transition by targeting ErbB2 and VAV2 through the Rac1/PAK1/β-catenin axis in non-small-cell lung cancer.
Cancer Sci. 2019; 110(6):1883-1896 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
MicroRNAs have been reported to play critical roles in the regulation of non-small-cell cancer (NSCLC) development, but the role of microRNA (miR)-331-3p in NSCLC is still unclear. In this study, the expression levels of miR-331-3p in NSCLC tumor tissues and adjacent normal tissues were examined by quantitative RT-PCR, and the relationship between miR-331-3p expression and patient clinicopathological characteristics was analyzed. The effects of miR-331-3p on epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT), migration, and metastasis of NSCLC cells were determined in vitro and vivo. Direct functional targets of miR-331-3p were identified by luciferase reporter assay, western blot assay, immunohistochemical staining, and rescue assay. The downstream pathway regulated by miR-331-3p was identified by immunofluorescence, immunoprecipitation, and Rac1 activity examination. Our results showed that miR-331-3p was significantly downregulated in NSCLC tumor tissues and was correlated with clinicopathological characteristics, and miR-331-3p could be an independent prognostic marker for NSCLC patients. Furthermore, miR-331-3p significantly suppressed EMT, migration and metastasis of NSCLC cells in vitro and in vivo. Both ErbB2 and VAV2 were direct functional targets of miR-331-3p. The activities of Rac1, PAK1, and β-catenin were regulated by miR-331-3p through ErbB2 and VAV2 targeting. These results indicated that miR-331-3p suppresses EMT, migratory capacity, and metastatic ability by targeting ErbB2 and VAV2 through the Rac1/PAK1/β-catenin axis in NSCLC.

Wang H, Liu D, Yang J
Prognostic risk model construction and molecular marker identification in glioblastoma multiforme based on mRNA/microRNA/long non-coding RNA analysis using random survival forest method.
Neoplasma. 2019; 2019(3):459-469 [PubMed] Related Publications
We aim to identify novel molecular signatures for prognosis prediction of glioblastoma multiforme (GBM). The expression and microarray data of GBM were downloaded from The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) and the Gene Expression Omnibus (GEO). Differentially expressed mRNAs, microRNAs (miRNAs) and long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) between GBM and normal samples were identified by differential expression analysis using Bayesian T-test. Functional enrichment analysis was performed to identify GBM associated functions and pathways. A subset of signature mRNAs was selected from differentially expressed mRNAs and used to build a risk model for GBM using random survival forest (RSF) method. The performance of the model in prognosis prediction was validated using an independent validation dataset. A competing endogenous RNA (ceRNA) network was then constructed and key prognostic markers were identified from the network by survival analysis. In total, 905 mRNAs, 24 miRNAs and 403 lncRNAs were identified to be differentially expressed between GBM and normal samples. Functional and pathway items such as p53 signaling and PI3K/Akt signaling were significantly enriched by differentially expressed mRNAs. The RSF risk model showed a high performance in prognosis prediction for both training and validation dataset. The ceRNA network provided a comprehensive view of the interplays between differentially expressed mRNAs, miRNAs and lncRNAs. Among the ceRNA network, p21 (RAC1) activated kinase 1 (PAK1) and synaptic vesicle glycoprotein 2B (SV2B) were identified as key prognosis associated markers. The RSF risk model and key prognostic markers may contribute to GBM diagnosis in future clinical practice.

Xia P, Huang M, Zhang Y, et al.
NCK1 promotes the angiogenesis of cervical squamous carcinoma via Rac1/PAK1/MMP2 signal pathway.
Gynecol Oncol. 2019; 152(2):387-395 [PubMed] Related Publications
OBJECTIVE: The study was to explore the roles of Nck1 in the angiogenesis of cervical squamous cell carcinoma (CSCC).
METHODS: mRNA and protein levels were evaluated with real-time quantitative PCR and immunohistochemisty/western blotting respectively. The cancer microvessel density (MVD) was assayed with CD34 endothelial labeling. Nck1 gene knock-in (SiHa-Nck1+) and knock-down (SiHa-Nck1-) were achieved by gene transfection and siRNA respectively. Protein level from cellular supernatant was measured with ELISA. Proliferation, migration and tube formation of the Human Umbilical Vein Endothelial cells (HUVECs) were evaluated by CCK-8 cell viability assay, transwell chamber assay and in vitro Matrigel tubulation assay respectively.
RESULTS: Nck1 level gradually increased from normal cervical epithelia to high-grade CIN, overexpressed in CSCC and was associated with cancer MVD. The ability of proliferation, migration and tube formation of HUVECs was enhanced in SiHa-Nck1+-treated while decreased in SiHa-NcK1--treated cells compared to SiHa-control-treated cells. Mechanistically, RAC1-GTP, p-PAK1 and MMP2 were increased in SiHa-NCK1+ cells and pretreatment with the Rac1 inhibitor (NSC23766) significantly decreased their levels. Furthermore, inhibition of PAK1 reduced MMP2 level in SiHa-Nck1+ cells whereas the level of Rac1-GTP was unaltered. Also, inhibition of Rac1 or PAK1 impaired angiogenesis-inducing capacity of cancer cells.
CONCLUSIONS: Nck1 promotes the angiogenesis-inducing capacity of CSCC via the Rac1/PAK1/MMP2 signal pathway.

Siekmann IK, Dierck K, Prall S, et al.
Combined inhibition of receptor tyrosine and p21-activated kinases as a therapeutic strategy in childhood ALL.
Blood Adv. 2018; 2(19):2554-2567 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Receptor tyrosine kinase (RTK)-dependent signaling has been implicated in the pathogenesis of acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) of childhood. However, the RTK-dependent signaling state and its interpretation with regard to biological behavior are often elusive. To decipher signaling circuits that link RTK activity with biological output in vivo, we established patient-derived xenograft ALL (PDX-ALL) models with dependencies on fms-like tyrosine kinase 3 (FLT3) and platelet-derived growth factor receptor β (PDGFRB), which were interrogated by phosphoproteomics using iTRAQ mass spectrometry. Signaling circuits were determined by receptor type and cellular context with few generic features, among which we identified group I p21-activated kinases (PAKs) as potential therapeutic targets. Growth factor stimulation markedly increased catalytic activities of PAK1 and PAK2. RNA interference (RNAi)-mediated or pharmacological inhibition of PAKs using allosteric or adenosine triphosphate (ATP)-competitive compounds attenuated cell growth and increased apoptosis in vitro. Notably, PAK1- or PAK2-directed RNAi enhanced the antiproliferative effects of the type III RTK and protein kinase C inhibitor midostaurin. Treatment of FLT3- or PDGFRB-dependent ALLs with ATP-competitive PAK inhibitors markedly decreased catalytic activities of both PAK isoforms. In FLT3-driven ALL, this effect was augmented by coadministration of midostaurin resulting in synergistic effects on growth inhibition and apoptosis. Finally, combined treatment of

Orenay-Boyacioglu S, Kasap E, Gerceker E, et al.
Expression profiles of histone modification genes in gastric cancer progression.
Mol Biol Rep. 2018; 45(6):2275-2282 [PubMed] Related Publications
Gastric cancer (GC) development can be attributed to several risk factors including atrophic gastritis (AG), intestinal metaplasia (IM), and the presence of Helicobacter pylori (HP). Also, histone modification is an epigenetic mechanism that plays a pivotal role in GC carcinogenesis. In this preliminary study, we aimed to describe the expression profiles of histone modification in the AG, IM, and GC patient groups. A total of 80 patients with AG (n = 27), IM (n = 25), and GC (n = 28) with an additional 20 control subjects were included in the study. Expression profiles of three histone phosphorylation genes (PAK1, NEK6, and AURKA) and five histone deacetylation genes (HDACs 1, 2, 3, 5, and 7) were examined based on the results of Real Time qPCR method. It was observed that AURKA and HDAC2 genes were significantly overexpressed in all groups compared to the control (P < 0.05). In GC patients, overexpression of HDAC2 gene was detected in the absence of metastasis, and overexpression of AURKA, HDAC2, and NEK6 genes was detected in the presence of metastasis. When cancer involvements were compared, significant overexpression of the HDAC2 gene was noted in overall and corpus involvements (P < 0.05). In addition, overexpression of AURKA, NEK6, HDAC1, and HDAC2 genes and underexpression of HDAC5 gene were detected in the antrum involvement (P < 0.05). In conclusion, decreased expression of HDAC5 in GC is reported for the first time in this study, while supporting the existing literature in AURKA, NEK6, HDAC1, and HDAC2 up regulations during GC development.

Chow HY, Dong B, Valencia CA, et al.
Group I Paks are essential for epithelial- mesenchymal transition in an Apc-driven model of colorectal cancer.
Nat Commun. 2018; 9(1):3473 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
p21-activated kinases (Paks) play an important role in oncogenic signaling pathways and have been considered as potential therapeutic targets in various cancers. Most studies of Pak function employ gene knock-out or knock-down methods, but these approaches result in loss of both enzymatic and scaffolding properties of these proteins, and thus may not reflect the effects of small molecule inhibitors. Here we use a transgenic mouse model in which a specific peptide inhibitor of Group I Paks is conditionally expressed in response to Cre recombinase. Using this model, we show that inhibition of endogenous Paks impedes the transition of adenoma to carcinoma in an Apc-driven mouse model of colorectal cancer. These effects are mediated by inhibition of Wnt signaling through reduced β-catenin activity as well as suppression of an epithelial-mesenchymal transition program mediated by miR-200 and Snai1. These results highlight the potential therapeutic role of Pak1 inhibitors in colorectal cancer.

Seyfi D, Behzad SB, Nabiuni M, et al.
Verbascoside Attenuates Rac-1 and HIF-1α Signaling Cascade in Colorectal Cancer Cells.
Anticancer Agents Med Chem. 2018; 18(15):2149-2155 [PubMed] Related Publications
OBJECTIVE: Metastasis phenotype is considered as the main challenge in colon cancer therapeutic methods. Furthermore, the side effects of conventional colorectal cancer treatment methods have attracted a lot of attention into natural ingredients. The aim of the study was to assess the molecular mechanism of verbascoside as natural bio-compound in human HT29 colon cancer cells.
METHODS: HT29 cells were cultured in RPMI-1640 medium containing 10% FBS and 1% penicillin/ streptomycin at 37°C and 5% CO
RESULTS: The results showed that verbascoside inhibited HT29 colon cancer cell proliferation dose-dependently and IC
CONCLUSION: Colorectal cancer cells induce Rac-1 and HIF-1α overexpression which plays an important role in the activation and progression of cell motility, angiogenesis and metastasis. Overall results showed that verbascoside elucidated significant anti-metastatic and anti-invasion activities through suppression of Rac-1, HIF-1α, and Zeb-1 signaling pathway and it may be a suitable candidate to overwhelm colon cancer metastatic phenotype.

Zhang ZL, Liu GC, Peng L, et al.
Effect of PAK1 gene silencing on proliferation and apoptosis in hepatocellular carcinoma cell lines MHCC97-H and HepG2 and cells in xenograft tumor.
Gene Ther. 2018; 25(4):284-296 [PubMed] Related Publications
This study intends to explore the effect of the PAK1 gene silencing on apoptosis and proliferation of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) MHCC97-H and HepG2 cells and cells in xenograft tumor. MHCC97-H and HepG2 cells and mice with xenograft tumor in vivo were randomly divided into control, empty vector and PAK1 shRNA groups. Morphology and the expression of green fluorescent protein of MHCC97-H and HepG2 cells and cells in xenograft tumor were observed. MTT assay and flow cytometry were used to detect proliferation, cell cycle and apoptosis of MHCC97-H and HepG2 cells and cells in xenograft tumor. The expressions of PAK1, PCNA, Ki67, Cyclin E, CDK2, p21, p53, Bax and Bcl-2 were measured using the quantitative reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction and western blotting. Compared with the control and empty vector groups, number of adherent cells of MHCC97-H and HepG2 cells and cells in xenograft tumor was reduced, and green fluorescent cells became round and reduced in the PAK1 shRNA group. Cell proliferation, the cells at S phase, the mRNA and protein expressions of PAK1, PCNA, Ki67, Cyclin E, CDK2 and Bcl-2 of MHCC97-H and HepG2 cells and cells in xenograft tumor were decreased, while the cells at G1 phase, apoptosis rate, the mRNA and protein expressions of p21, p53 and Bax of MHCC97-H and HepG2 cells and cells in xenograft tumor were increased in the PAK1 shRNA group. PAK1 gene silencing decreases proliferation of MHCC97-H cells, HepG2 cells and cells in xenograft tumor through the p53/p21 pathway.

Li C, Liu H, Zhang B, et al.
Whole-exome sequencing identifies key mutated genes in T790M wildtype/cMET-unamplified lung adenocarcinoma with acquired resistance to first-generation EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitors.
J Cancer Res Clin Oncol. 2018; 144(6):1079-1086 [PubMed] Related Publications
PURPOSE: Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related death worldwide. Lung adenocarcinoma harboring EGFR-activating mutations will inevitably acquire resistance to first-generation EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs). EGFR T790M mutation and cMET amplification are common mechanisms. Further study is needed to explore unknown genomic alterations contributing to drug resistance.
METHODS: Tumor and blood samples from 69 stage IIIB-IV NSCLC patients defined as acquired resistance to first-generation EGFR TKIs (gefitinib, erlotinib or ecotinib) were collected. The cobas
RESULTS: The overall T790M-positive rate was 52.2% considering all testing methods. Out of 21 samples in which tumor re-biopsy was performed, 14 were T790M positive (66.7%). cMET amplification was identified in three out of seven T790M-negative samples. Exome sequencing in four T790M wildtype/cMET-unamplified samples and paired white blood cells identified a cohort of candidate key mutated genes including BRAF, FGFR1, PAK1, PCNT, PEBP4 and SOX3.
CONCLUSIONS: EGFR T790M mutation and cMET amplification are main mechanisms leading to EGFR TKI resistance in lung adenocarcinoma. These key mutated genes identified in the present study would need further validation in large number of patients.

Maziveyi M, Dong S, Baranwal S, Alahari SK
Nischarin regulates focal adhesion and Invadopodia formation in breast cancer cells.
Mol Cancer. 2018; 17(1):21 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
BACKGROUND: During metastasis, tumor cells move through the tracks of extracellular matrix (ECM). Focal adhesions (FAs) are the protein complexes that link the cell cytoskeleton to the ECM and their presence is necessary for cell attachment. The tumor suppressor Nischarin interacts with a number of signaling proteins such as Integrin α5, PAK1, LIMK1, LKB1, and Rac1 to prevent cancer cell migration. Although previous findings have shown that Nischarin exerts this migratory inhibition by interacting with other proteins, the effects of these interactions on the entire FA machinery are unknown.
METHODS: RT-PCR, Western Blotting, invadopodia assays, and immunofluorescence were used to examine FA gene expression and determine whether Nischarin affects cell attachment, as well as the proteins that regulate it.
RESULTS: Our data show that Nischarin prevents cell migration and invasion by altering the expression of key focal adhesion proteins. Furthermore, we have found that Nischarin-expressing cells have reduced ability to attach the ECM, which in turn leads to a decrease in invadopodia-mediated matrix degradation.
CONCLUSIONS: These experiments demonstrate an important role of Nischarin in regulating cell attachment, which adds to our understanding of the early events of the metastatic process in breast cancer.

Islam SMA, Patel R, Acevedo-Duncan M
Protein Kinase C-ζ stimulates colorectal cancer cell carcinogenesis via PKC-ζ/Rac1/Pak1/β-Catenin signaling cascade.
Biochim Biophys Acta Mol Cell Res. 2018; 1865(4):650-664 [PubMed] Related Publications
Colorectal cancer (CRC) is the second most common cancer in the world and death from CRC accounts for 8% of all cancer deaths both in men and women in the United States. CRC is life-threatening disease due to therapy resistant cancerous cells. The exact mechanisms of cell growth, survival, metastasis and inter & intracellular signaling pathways involved in CRC is still a significant challenge. Hence, investigating the signaling pathways that lead to colon carcinogenesis may give insight into the therapeutic target. In this study, the role of atypical Protein Kinase C (aPKC) on CRC was investigated by using two inhibitors of that protein class: 1) ζ-Stat (8-hydroxynaphthalene-1,3,6-trisulfonic acid) is a specific inhibitor of PKC-ζ and 2) ICA-I 5-amino-1-(2,3-dihydroxy-4-hydroxymethyl)cyclopentyl)-1H-imidazole-4-carboxamide) is a specific inhibitor of PKC-ι. The cell lines tested were CCD18CO normal colon epithelial and LOVO metastatic CRC cells. The inhibition of aPKCs did not bring any significant toxicity on CCD18CO normal colon cell line. Although PKC-ι is an oncogene in many cancers, we found the overexpression of PKC-ζ and its direct association with Rac1. Our findings suggest that the PKC-ζ may be responsible for the abnormal growth, proliferation, and migration of metastatic LOVO colon cancer cells via PKC-ζ/Rac1/Pak1/β-Catenin pathway. These results suggest the possibility of utilizing PKC-ζ inhibitor to block CRC cells growth, proliferation, and metastasis.

Wang M, Yang C, Zhang X, Li X
Characterizing genomic differences of human cancer stratified by the TP53 mutation status.
Mol Genet Genomics. 2018; 293(3):737-746 [PubMed] Related Publications
The key roles of the TP53 mutation in cancer have been well established. TP53 is the most frequently mutated gene, and its inactivation is widespread among human cancer types. However, the landscape of genomic alterations in human cancers stratified by the TP53 mutation has not yet been described. We obtained somatic mutation and copy number change data of 6551 regular-mutated samples from the Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) and compared significantly mutated genes (SMGs), copy number alterations, mutational signatures and mutational strand asymmetries between cancer samples with and without the TP53 mutation. We identified 126 SMGs, 30 of which were statistically significant in both the TP53 mutant and wild-type groups. Several SMGs, such as VHL, SMAD4 and PTEN, showed a mutation bias towards the TP53 wild-type group, whereas ATRX, IDH1 and RB1 were more prevalent in the TP53 mutant group. Five mutational signatures were extracted from the combined TCGA dataset on which mutational asymmetry analysis was performed, revealing that the TP53 mutant group exhibited substantially greater replication and transcription biases. Furthermore, we found that alterations of multiple genes in a merged mutually exclusive network composed of BRAF, EGFR, PAK1, PIK3CA, PTEN, APC and TERT were related to shortened survival in the TP53 wild-type group. In summary, we characterized the genomic differences and similarities underlying human cancers stratified by the TP53 mutation and identified multi-gene alterations of a merged mutually exclusive network to be a poor prognostic factor for the TP53 wild-type group.

Rane CK, Minden A
P21 activated kinase signaling in cancer.
Semin Cancer Biol. 2019; 54:40-49 [PubMed] Related Publications
The p21 Activated Kinases (PAKs) are a family of serine threonine kinases, that consist of 6 members, PAKs 1-6, which are positioned at an intersection of multiple signaling pathways implicated in oncogenesis. The PAKs were originally identified as protein kinases that function downstream of the Ras related Rho GTPases Cdc42 and Rac. PAK1 and PAK4, which belong to Group I and Group II PAKs, respectively, are most often associated with tumorigenesis. On account of their well characterized roles in cancer, several small molecule inhibitors are being developed to inhibit the PAKs, and there is interest in investigating their efficacy as either first line or adjuvant treatments for cancer. Studies to delineate PAK regulated signaling pathways as well as the long term effects of PAK overexpression on gene expression are beginning to shed light on the mechanism by which PAK proteins may lead to cancer when they are overexpressed or activated. This review will describe the association between PAK expression in cancer, with a focus on PAK1 and PAK4, which are most often associated with the disease. The current understanding of the molecular mechanisms by which the PAKs operate in cancer will be discussed. We will also review some of the potential drug candidates, and discuss which of them are currently being tested for their efficacy in cancer treatments.

Wang Y, Gu X, Li W, et al.
PAK1 overexpression promotes cell proliferation in cutaneous T cell lymphoma via suppression of PUMA and p21.
J Dermatol Sci. 2018; 90(1):60-67 [PubMed] Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Cutaneous T cell lymphoma (CTCL) comprises a heterogeneous group of skin-homing T cell tumors. The small guanosine triphosphate effector p21-activated kinase 1 (PAK1) plays an important role in many fundamental cellular functions, including cell motility, proliferation, and apoptosis. The expression of PAK1 is up-regulated in several types of human cancers. However, little is known about the role of PAK1 in the pathogenesis of CTCL.
OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study was to evaluate the expression pattern and underlying mechanism of PAK1 in CTCL.
METHODS: Quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction(qRT-PCR) was used to detect PAK1 mRNA expression in the peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) of patients with CTCL. The expression of PAK1 protein in CTCL tumor tissues was determined by immunohistochemistry. CTCL cell lines were treated with a small molecule inhibitor of PAK1, p21-activated kinase inhibitor III (IPA3), at concentrations of 2, 3.5 and 5 μM for 24 h. Hut 78 and HH CTCL cells were transfected with lentiviral-based PAK1 gene knockdown vectors. We determined the effects of PAK1 knockdown on cell proliferation and apoptosis in CTCL cells by MTS assay and flow cytometry. Animal experiments were performed to investigate the effects of PAK1 knockdown on the growth of tumors in vivo. Transcriptomic sequencing was performed to detect the direct downstream targets of PAK1 silencing. Reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction and western blot analysis were applied to verify the results of the transcriptomic analysis.
RESULTS: We detected PAK1 overexpression in PBMCs and skin lesions from patients with CTCL compared with benign inflammatory dermatoses (BID). Knockdown of PAK1 inhibited cell proliferation and promoted spontaneous apoptosis. In addition, the inhibitory effect of IPA3 was validated in the CTCL cell lines. Additionally, mice injected with PAK1-silenced cells presented with a decreased rate of tumor growth compared with the control groups. Moreover, the mRNA and protein expression of PUMA (BBC3) and p21 (CDKN1A) were increased in PAK1-silenced Hut 78 and HH cells.
CONCLUSIONS: Our data indicated that PAK1 is upregulated in CTCL. PAK1 silencing induced apoptosis and inhibited cell growth by stimulating the expression of PUMA and p21. Thus, PAK1 may be a potential tumor marker and therapeutic target of CTCL.

Raghavan S, Venkatraman G, Rayala SK
Cloning and functional characterization of human Pak1 promoter by steroid hormones.
Gene. 2018; 646:120-128 [PubMed] Related Publications
P21-activated kinase 1 (Pak1) is known to be involved in a plethora of functions including cell growth, survival and can lead to cell transformation and tumor progression especially in breast tissue. Multiple studies have shown Pak1 dysregulation as a change in DNA copy number as well as gene expression levels, suggesting many regulatory mechanisms at transcriptional and translational level. However, very little is known about the transcriptional regulation of the human Pak1 promoter. Here, we focus on Pak1 promoter regulation by steroid hormones along with their respective receptors that are also crucial players in breast tissue function and tumorigenesis. Our results show high Pak1 expression in breast cancer cell lines and in breast tumor tissue. It also suggests that Pak1 is hormone responsive, whose expression can be modulated by steroid hormones namely, estrogen in the form of 17β-estradiol (E2) and progesterone (P4). Sequence analysis of a 3.2kb Pak1 proximal promoter region shows the presence of PRE (progesterone response element) and ERE (estrogen response element) half sites, that were further cloned and characterized. Results from promoter analysis showed that Pak1 promoter activity is mediated by PR via its binding to PRE present on the Pak1 promoter that was further reaffirmed in vitro by electrophoretic mobility shift assay (EMSA) and chromatin immunoprecipitation assay (ChIP). Our results together suggest that it is the PR isoform B regulates Pak1 promoter. To our knowledge, this is the first study to report the detailed characterization and transcriptional regulation of the human Pak1 promoter by steroid hormones.

Liu X, Si W, Liu X, et al.
JMJD6 promotes melanoma carcinogenesis through regulation of the alternative splicing of PAK1, a key MAPK signaling component.
Mol Cancer. 2017; 16(1):175 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Melanoma, originated from melanocytes located on the basal membrane of the epithelial tissue, is the most aggressive form of skin cancer that accounts for 75% of skin cancer-related death. Although it is believed that BRAF mutation and the mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathway play critical roles in the pathogenesis of melanoma, how the MAPK signaling is regulated in melanoma carcinogenesis is still not fully understood.
METHODS: We characterized JMJD6 expression in melanoma tissue array by immunohistochemistry analysis. We used human melanoma A375, 451Lu and SK-MEL-1 cell lines for in vitro proliferation and invasion experiments, and xenograft transplanted mice using murine melanoma B16F10 cells by bioluminescence imaging for in vivo tumor growth and pulmonary metastasis assessments. Endothelial tube formation assay, chicken yolk sac membrane assay and matrigel plug assay were performed to test the effect of JMJD6 on the angiogenic potential in vitro and in vivo.
RESULTS: Here we report that the jumonji C domain-containing demethylase/hydroxylase JMJD6 is markedly up-regulated in melanoma. We found that high expression of JMJD6 is closely correlated with advanced clinicopathologic stage, aggressiveness, and poor prognosis of melanoma. RNA-seq showed that knockdown of JMJD6 affects the alternative splicing of a panel of transcripts including that encoding for PAK1, a key component in MAPK signaling pathway. We demonstrated that JMJD6 enhances the MAPK signaling and promotes multiple cellular processes including melanogenesis, proliferation, invasion, and angiogenesis in melanoma cells. Interestingly, JMJD6 is transcriptionally activated by c-Jun, generating a feedforward loop to drive the development and progression of melanoma.
CONCLUSIONS: Our results indicate that JMJD6 is critically involved in melanoma carcinogenesis, supporting the pursuit of JMJD6 as a potential biomarker for melanoma aggressiveness and a target for melanoma intervention.

Menezes AC, Carvalheiro M, Ferreira de Oliveira JMP, et al.
Cytotoxic effect of the serotonergic drug 1-(1-Naphthyl)piperazine against melanoma cells.
Toxicol In Vitro. 2018; 47:72-78 [PubMed] Related Publications
1-(1-Naphthyl)piperazine (1-NPZ) is a serotonergic derivative of quipazine acting both as antagonist and agonist of different serotonin receptors, with promising results for the management of skin cancer. In this work, we studied the effect of 1-NPZ on human MNT-1 melanoma cells by evaluating its effects on cell viability, ability to form colonies, cell cycle dynamics, reactive oxygen species (ROS) production and apoptosis. Treatment of MNT-1 cells with 1-NPZ for 24h decreased cell viability and induced apoptosis in a dose-dependent manner. Activity against melanoma was confirmed with a different melanoma cell line, SK-MEL-28. Simultaneously, 1-NPZ affected cell cycle progression by mediating a S-phase delay. Higher levels of ROS were also detected in MNT-1 cells after treatment with 1-NPZ. Furthermore, 1-NPZ significantly increased the expression of cyclooxygenase-2 in MNT-1 cells. These findings suggest that 1-NPZ pretreatment is able to induce oxidative stress, and consequently apoptotic cell death in melanoma cells. In conclusion, this study demonstrates the cytotoxic and genotoxic potential of 1-NPZ against melanoma cells.

Jeong D, Ham J, Park S, et al.
MicroRNA-7-5p mediates the signaling of hepatocyte growth factor to suppress oncogenes in the MCF-10A mammary epithelial cell.
Sci Rep. 2017; 7(1):15425 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
MicroRNA-7 (miR-7) is a non-coding RNA of 23-nucleotides that has been shown to act as a tumor suppressor in various cancers including breast cancer. Although there have been copious studies on the action mechanisms of miR-7, little is known about how the miR is controlled in the mammary cell. In this study, we performed a genome-wide expression analysis in miR-7-transfected MCF-10A breast cell line to explore the upstream regulators of miR-7. Analysis of the dysregulated target gene pool predicted hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) as the most plausible upstream regulator of miR-7. MiR-7 was upregulated in MCF-10A cells by HGF, and subsequently downregulated upon treatment with siRNA against HGF. However, the expression of HGF did not significantly change through either an upregulation or downregulation of miR-7 expression, suggesting that HGF acts upstream of miR-7. In addition, the target genes of miR-7, such as EGFR, KLF4, FAK, PAK1 and SET8, which are all known oncogenes, were downregulated in HGF-treated MCF-10A; in contrast, knocking down HGF recovered their expression. These results indicate that miR-7 mediates the activity of HGF to suppress oncogenic proteins, which inhibits the development of normal cells, at least MCF-10A, into cancerous cells.

Hu HF, Xu WW, Wang Y, et al.
Comparative Proteomics Analysis Identifies Cdc42-Cdc42BPA Signaling as Prognostic Biomarker and Therapeutic Target for Colon Cancer Invasion.
J Proteome Res. 2018; 17(1):265-275 [PubMed] Related Publications
Metastasis is one of the major causes of treatment failure in the patients with colon cancer. The aim of our study is to find key proteins and pathways that drive invasion and metastasis in colon cancer. Eight rounds of selection of cancer cells invading through matrigel-coated chamber were performed to obtain highly invasive colon cancer sublines HCT116-I8 and RKO-I8. Stable Isotope Labeling by Amino Acids in Cell Culture technology was used to identify the differently expressed proteins, and the proteomics data were analyzed by ingenuity pathway analysis. PAK1-PBD immunoprecipitation combined with Western blot were carried out to determine Cdc42 activity, and qRT-PCR and Western blot were used to determine gene expression. The functional role of Cdc42BPA and Cdc42 pathway in colon cancer invasion was studied by loss-of-function experiments including pharmacological blockade, siRNA knockdown, chamber invasion, and WST-1 assays. Human colon cancer tissue microarray was analyzed by immunohistochemistry for overexpression of Cdc42BPA and its correlation with clinicopathological parameters and patient survival outcomes. HCT116-I8 and RKO-I8 cells showed significantly stronger invasive potential as well as decreased E-cadherin and increased vimentin expressions compared with parental cells. The differently expressed proteins in I8 cells compared with parental cells were identified. Bioinformatics analysis of proteomics data suggested that Cdc42BPA protein and Cdc42 signaling pathway are important for colon cancer invasion, which was confirmed by experimental data showing upregulation of Cdc42BPA and higher expression of active GTP-bound form of Cdc42 in HCT116-I8 and RKO-I8 cells. Functionally, pharmacological and genetic blockade of Cdc42BPA and Cdc42 signaling markedly suppressed colon cancer cell invasion and reversed epithelial mesenchymal transition process. Furthermore, compared with adjacent normal tissues, Cdc42BPA expression was significantly higher in colon cancer tissues and further upregulated in metastatic tumors in lymph nodes. More importantly, Cdc42BPA expression was correlated with metastasis and poor survival of the patients with colon cancer. This study provides the first evidence that Cdc42BPA and Cdc42 signaling are important for colon cancer invasion, and Cdc42BPA has potential implications for colon cancer prognosis and treatment.

Araiza-Olivera D, Feng Y, Semenova G, et al.
Suppression of RAC1-driven malignant melanoma by group A PAK inhibitors.
Oncogene. 2018; 37(7):944-952 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Activating mutations in the RAC1 gene have recently been discovered as driver events in malignant melanoma. Expression of this gene is associated with melanocyte proliferation, and melanoma cells bearing this mutation are insensitive to BRAF inhibitors such as vemurafenib and dabrafenib, and also may evade immune surveillance due to enhanced expression of PD-L1. Activating mutations in RAC1 are of special interest, as small-molecule inhibitors for the RAC effector p21-activated kinase (PAK) are in late-stage clinical development and might impede oncogenic signaling from mutant RAC1. In this work, we explore the effects of PAK inhibition on RAC1

Han X, Li H, Zhang Y, et al.
Brain lipid-binding protein promotes proliferation and modulates cell cycle in C6 rat glioma cells.
Int J Oncol. 2017; 51(5):1439-1448 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Gliomas are the most common primary brain tumors affecting adults. Four grades of gliomas have been identified, namely, grades I-IV. Brain lipid-binding protein (BLBP), which functions in the intracellular transport of fatty acids, is expressed in all grades of human gliomas. The glioma cells that are cultured in vitro are grouped into the BLBP-positive and BLBP-negative cell lines. In the present study, we found that C6 rat glioma cells was a distinct type of BLBP-negative cell line. Our results confirmed that in the C6 cells, the expression of exogenous BLBP increased the proliferation and percentage of cells in the S phase, in the culture medium containing 10 or 1% FBS. Moreover, exogenous BLBP was found to downregulate the tumor suppressors p21 and p16 in the 1% FBS culture medium, but only p21 in the 10% FBS culture medium. The results of the xenograft model assay showed that exogenous BLBP also stimulated tumor formation and downregulated p21 and p16. In conclusion, our study demonstrated that exogenous BLBP promoted proliferation of the C6 cells in vitro and facilitated tumor formation in vivo. Therefore, BLBP expression in glioma cells may promote cell growth by inhibiting the tumor suppressors.

He PY, Yip WK, Chai BL, et al.
Inhibition of cell migration and invasion by miR‑29a‑3p in a colorectal cancer cell line through suppression of CDC42BPA mRNA expression.
Oncol Rep. 2017; 38(6):3554-3566 [PubMed] Related Publications
The objective of this study was to determine the effect of miR‑29a‑3p inhibitor on the migration and invasion of colorectal cancer cell lines (CRC) and the underlying molecular mechanisms. miR‑29a‑3p was detected using reverse transcription-quantitative polymerase chain reaction (RT‑qPCR) in the CRC cell lines HCT11, CaCo2, HT29, SW480 and SW620. An invasive subpopulation designated SW480‑7 was derived from the parental cell line, detected by Transwell and Transwell Matrigel assays. Cytoskeleton Regulators RT2 profiler PCR array and western blot analysis were utilized to identify the alterations in expression of downstream mRNAs. siRNA against CDC42BPA was transfected into SW480‑7 and effects on cell migration and invasion were investigated. Data obtained showed that miR‑29a‑3p was detected in these five CRC cell lines. miR‑29a‑3p inhibitor had no effect on viability but stimulated cell migration and invasion of SW480‑7 cells. In contrast, miR‑29a‑3p mimic suppressed cell migration and invasion. TargetScan miRBD and DIANA were employed to identify the potential direct target genes of miR‑29a‑3p in the Cytoskeleton Regulators RT2-Profiler PCR array. Cytoskeleton Regulators RT2-Profiler PCR array data showed that 3 out of the 5 predicted targets genes, CDC42BPA (2.33-fold), BAIAP2 (1.79-fold) and TIAM1 (1.77-fold), in the array were upregulated by miR‑29a‑3p. A significant increase in expression IQGAP2, PHLDB2, SSH1 mRNAs and downregulation of PAK1 mRNA was also detected with miR‑29a‑3p inhibition. Increase in CDC42BPA, SSH1 and IQGAP2 mRNA expression correlated with increased protein level in miR‑29a‑3p transfected SW-480-7 cells. Silencing of CDC42BPA (an enhancer of cell motility) partially abolished miR‑29a‑3p inhibitor-induced stimulation of cell migration and invasion. miR‑29a‑3p expression in stage II and III CRC is relatively lower than that of stage I CRC. However, the data need to be interpreted with caution due to the small sample size. In conclusion, inhibition of miR‑29a‑3p stimulates SW480‑7 cell migration and invasion and downstream expression IQGAP2, PHLDB2, SSH1 mRNAs are upregulated whilst PAK1 mRNA is downregulated. Silencing of CDC42BPA expression partially reduces miR29a‑3p inhibitor-induced migration and invasion of SW480‑7 cells.

Nandy SB, Orozco A, Lopez-Valdez R, et al.
Glucose insult elicits hyperactivation of cancer stem cells through miR-424-cdc42-prdm14 signalling axis.
Br J Cancer. 2017; 117(11):1665-1675 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Meta-analysis shows that women with diabetes have a 20% increased risk of breast cancer and also an increased risk for distant metastasis and mortality. The molecular mechanisms for distant metastasis and mortality in breast cancer patients with diabetes are not very well understood.
METHODS: We compared the effect of physiological (5 mM) and diabetic (10 mM) levels of glucose on malignant breast epithelial cell invasion and stemness capabilities. We performed microRNA array to determine the dysregulated microRNAs in hyperglycaemic conditions and performed functional and molecular analysis of the gene targets.
RESULTS: Hyperglycaemia leads to hyperactivation of cancer stem cell pool and enhances invasive ability of breast cancer cells. MiR-424 seems to be a key regulator of cancer cell stemness and invasion. Knockdown of miR-424 in cancer cells under euglycaemic conditions leads to enhanced invasion and stem cell activity, whereas ectopic expression of miR-424 in cancer cells under hyperglycaemic conditions results in suppressed invasion and stem cell activity. Cdc42, a target of miR-424, influences cancer stem cell activity by positively regulating prdm14 through activation of pak1 (p-21-activated kinase 1) and stat5.
CONCLUSIONS: Our findings establish miR-424→︀cdc42→︀prdm14 axis as a key molecular signalling cascade that might influence breast cancer progression in diabetic patients through hyperactivation of cancer stem cells.

Shi C, Ren L, Sun C, et al.
miR-29a/b/c function as invasion suppressors for gliomas by targeting CDC42 and predict the prognosis of patients.
Br J Cancer. 2017; 117(7):1036-1047 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
BACKGROUND: The lethality and poor outcome of high-grade gliomas result from the tumour relentless invasion. miR-29a/b/c downexpressions contribute to several human tumourigenesis. However, their relevance to prognosis and invasion in gliomas remains unclear.
METHODS: Relationships of miR-29a/b/c and CDC42 expressions to grade and survival-time in 147 human gliomas were analysed by in situ hybridisation and immunohistochemistry. Dual-luciferase reporter assay was used to identify CDC42 as a target of miR-29a/b/c. Underlining mechanisms by which miR-29a/b/c inhibited glioma cell migration and invasion were studied by in vitro and in vivo assays.
RESULTS: miR-29a/b/c expressions were inversely correlated with glioma grades, but positively correlated with patients' survival. Two distinct subgroups of grade I-IV glioma patients with different prognoses were identified according to miR-29a/b/c expressions. miR-29a/b/c overexpressions suppressed glioma cell migration and invasion through targeting CDC42 and subsequently decreasing phosphorylated PAK1/2/3, LIMK1/2 and cofilin, the pivotal downstream effectors of CDC42. Moreover, CDC42 expression was positively correlated with glioma grades, but inversely correlated with miR-29a/b/c expressions and patients' survival. In glioblastoma cell lines, CDC42-knockdown could mimic the anti-tumour effects of miR-29a/b/c.
CONCLUSIONS: miR-29a/b/c are important tumour suppressors and novel prognostic biomarkers of gliomas, and miR-29a/b/c and CDC42 are potential therapeutic candidates for malignant gliomas.

Satterfield L, Shuck R, Kurenbekova L, et al.
miR-130b directly targets ARHGAP1 to drive activation of a metastatic CDC42-PAK1-AP1 positive feedback loop in Ewing sarcoma.
Int J Cancer. 2017; 141(10):2062-2075 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Ewing Sarcoma (ES) is a highly aggressive bone tumor with peak incidence in the adolescent population. It has a high propensity to metastasize, which is associated with dismal survival rates of approximately 25%. To further understand mechanisms of metastasis we investigated microRNA regulatory networks in ES. Our studies focused on miR-130b due to our analysis that enhanced expression of this microRNA has clinical relevance in multiple sarcomas, including ES. Our studies provide insights into a novel positive feedback network involving the direct regulation of miR-130b and activation of downstream signaling events contributing toward sarcoma metastasis. Specifically, we demonstrated miR-130b induces proliferation, invasion, and migration in vitro and increased metastatic potential in vivo. Using microarray analysis of ES cells with differential miR-130b expression we identified alterations in downstream signaling cascades including activation of the CDC42 pathway. We identified ARHGAP1, which is a negative regulator of CDC42, as a novel, direct target of miR-130b. In turn, downstream activation of PAK1 activated the JNK and AP-1 cascades and downstream transcriptional targets including IL-8, MMP1 and CCND1. Furthermore, chromatin immunoprecipitation of endogenous AP-1 in ES cells demonstrated direct binding to an upstream consensus binding site within the miR-130b promoter. Finally, small molecule inhibition of PAK1 blocked miR-130b activation of JNK and downstream AP-1 target genes, including primary miR-130b transcripts, and miR-130b oncogenic properties, thus identifying PAK1 as a novel therapeutic target for ES. Taken together, our findings identify and characterize a novel, targetable miR-130b regulatory network that promotes ES metastasis.

Giagulli C, D'Ursi P, He W, et al.
A single amino acid substitution confers B-cell clonogenic activity to the HIV-1 matrix protein p17.
Sci Rep. 2017; 7(1):6555 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Recent data highlight the presence, in HIV-1-seropositive patients with lymphoma, of p17 variants (vp17s) endowed with B-cell clonogenicity, suggesting a role of vp17s in lymphomagenesis. We investigated the mechanisms responsible for the functional disparity on B cells between a wild-type p17 (refp17) and a vp17 named S75X. Here, we show that a single Arginine (R) to Glycine (G) mutation at position 76 in the refp17 backbone (p17R76G), as in the S75X variant, is per se sufficient to confer a B-cell clonogenic potential to the viral protein and modulate, through activation of the PTEN/PI3K/Akt signaling pathway, different molecules involved in apoptosis inhibition (CASP-9, CASP-7, DFF-45, NPM, YWHAZ, Src, PAX2, MAPK8), cell cycle promotion and cancer progression (CDK1, CDK2, CDK8, CHEK1, CHEK2, GSK-3 beta, NPM, PAK1, PP2C-alpha). Moreover, the only R to G mutation at position 76 was found to strongly impact on protein folding and oligomerization by altering the hydrogen bond network. This generates a conformational shift in the p17 R76G mutant which enables a functional epitope(s), masked in refp17, to elicit B-cell growth-promoting signals after its interaction with a still unknown receptor(s). Our findings offer new opportunities to understand the molecular mechanisms accounting for the B-cell growth-promoting activity of vp17s.

Beesetti S, Mavuluri J, Surabhi RP, et al.
Transcriptional regulation of ataxia-telangiectasia and Rad3-related protein by activated p21-activated kinase-1 protects keratinocytes in UV-B-induced premalignant skin lesions.
Oncogene. 2017; 36(44):6154-6163 [PubMed] Related Publications
Sun-induced skin lesions, in particular actinic keratosis, are generally considered as premalignant skin lesions that can progress into squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) and invasive SCC if left untreated. Therefore, understanding the molecular mechanisms by which the ultraviolet-B (UV-B)-exposed cells are being protected and the signaling pathways that promote the progression of certain premalignant skin lesions to malignant lesions will permit us to prevent or cure skin cancers. In the current study, we found that phospho-p21-activated kinase-1 (Pak1) and Pak1 expression was high in clinical samples of sunlight-induced premalignant skin lesions assessed by immunohistochemistry. Further, we observed that phospho-Pak1 and Pak1 levels are high in UV-B-exposed hairless SKH mouse model skin samples as compared with unexposed skin tissue. Our results from cell line and animal models showed that Pak1 is activated in response to UV-B radiation, and this activated Pak1 translocates from the cytoplasm to the nucleus. Inside the nucleus, Pak1 via C-Fos binds to a specific promoter region of DNA repair kinase ATR (ataxia-telangiectasia and Rad3-related protein) and acts as a transcriptional regulator of ATR. Results from our analysis showed that Pak1 overexpression, knockdown and Pak1 knockout cell line models showed that Pak1 confers protection to keratinocytes from UV-B-induced apoptosis and DNA damage via ATR. To our knowledge, this is the first study that evaluates the functional and clinical significance of a signaling molecule, Pak1, in sun-induced premalignant skin lesions and indicates that increased Pak1 activation and expression could serve as an early warning sign of progression toward non-melanoma skin cancer, if ignored.

Li LH, Wu GY, Lu YZ, et al.
p21-activated protein kinase 1 induces the invasion of gastric cancer cells through c-Jun NH2-terminal kinase-mediated activation of matrix metalloproteinase-2.
Oncol Rep. 2017; 38(1):193-200 [PubMed] Related Publications
Gastric cancer (GC) is one of the most common malignancies worldwide. The prognosis of GC is poor, mostly due to widespread metastasis. p21-activated kinase 1 (Pak1), the best characterized member of an evolutionarily conserved family of serine/threonine kinases, plays an important role in the regulation of cell morphogenesis, motility, mitosis and angiogenesis. By qRT-PCR and Gelatin zymograph assay, we demonstrated in the present study that stable overexpression of Pak1 induced matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)-2 mRNA expression and activity in the human MKN45 GC cell line. Conversely, knockdown of endogenous Pak1 expression by small interfering RNA (siRNA) decreased MMP-2 mRNA expression and activity in the MKN45 GC cells. Activation of c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) was required for Pak1-induced upregulation of MMP-2 mRNA level and activity. Moreover, upregulation of MMP-2 by Pak1 via the JNK pathway notably promoted the invasion of MKN45 GC cells. Overexpression of MMP-2 mRNA was once again confirmed to be associated with GC metastasis. In conclusion, our results demonstrated for the first time that Pak1 stimulated MMP-2 mRNA expression and activity in MKN45 GC cells. The JNK signaling pathway was involved in Pak1 modulation of MMP-2, which was important for MKN45 GC cell invasiveness.

Semenova G, Stepanova DS, Dubyk C, et al.
Targeting group I p21-activated kinases to control malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumor growth and metastasis.
Oncogene. 2017; 36(38):5421-5431 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumors (MPNSTs) are devastating sarcomas for which no effective medical therapies are available. Over 50% of MPSNTs are associated with mutations in NF1 tumor suppressor gene, resulting in activation of Ras and its effectors, including the Raf/Mek/Erk and PI3K/Akt/mTORC1 signaling cascades, and also the WNT/β-catenin pathway. As Group I p21-activated kinases (Group I Paks, PAK1/2/3) have been shown to modulate Ras-driven oncogenesis, we asked if these enzymes might regulate signaling in MPNSTs. In this study we found a strong positive correlation between the activity of PAK1/2/3 and the stage of human MPNSTs. We determined that reducing Group I Pak activity diminished MPNST cell proliferation and motility, and that these effects were not accompanied by significant blockade of the Raf/Mek/Erk pathway, but rather by reductions in Akt and β-catenin activity. Using the small molecule PAK1/2/3 inhibitor Frax1036 and the MEK1/2 inhibitor PD0325901, we showed that the combination of these two agents synergistically inhibited MPNST cell growth in vitro and dramatically decreased local and metastatic MPNST growth in animal models. Taken together, these data provide new insights into MPNST signaling deregulation and suggest that co-targeting of PAK1/2/3 and MEK1/2 may be effective in the treatment of patients with MPNSTs.

Zhang F, Lu YX, Chen Q, et al.
Identification of NCK1 as a novel downstream effector of STAT3 in colorectal cancer metastasis and angiogenesis.
Cell Signal. 2017; 36:67-78 [PubMed] Related Publications
Signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (STAT3) is known to activate targets associated with invasion, proliferation, and angiogenesis in a wide variety of cancers. The adaptor protein NCK1 is involved in cytoskeletal movement and was identified as a STAT3-associated target in human tumors. However, the underlying molecular mechanism associated with colorectal cancer (CRC) metastasis is not yet completely understood. In this study, we report a novel STAT3 to NCK1 signaling pathway in colorectal cancer (CRC). We investigated the expression of NCK1 and its potential clinical and biological significance in CRC. NCK1 was noticeably up-regulated in human CRC tissues. NCK1 was also significantly associated with serosal invasion, lymph metastasis, and tumor-node-metastasis classification but was inversely correlated with differentiation. Gain-of-function and loss-of-function studies have shown that ectopic expression of NCK1 enhanced metastasis and angiogenesis in CRC cells. By gene expression analyses, we revealed a high co-overexpression of STAT3 and NCK1 in CRC tissues. Ectopic overexpression of STAT3 in CRC cells induced the expression of NCK1, whereas STAT3 knockdown decreased the expression of NCK1. Promoter activation and binding analyses demonstrated that STAT3 promoted the expression of NCK1 via direct action on the NCK1 promoter. The knock down of NCK1 partially reduced the CRC cell metastasis and angiogenesis promoted by STAT3. Additionally, by co-immunoprecipitation assays, we verified that NCK1 interacted with PAK1, which resulted in the activation of the PAK1/ERK pathway. STAT3 induced the transcription of NCK1 and triggered a PAK1/ERK cascade in CRC. These findings suggest a novel STAT3 to NCK1 to PAK1/ERK signaling mechanism that is potentially critical for CRC metastasis and angiogenesis.

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