Gene Summary

Gene:RAC1; Rac family small GTPase 1
Aliases: MIG5, MRD48, Rac-1, TC-25, p21-Rac1
Summary:The protein encoded by this gene is a GTPase which belongs to the RAS superfamily of small GTP-binding proteins. Members of this superfamily appear to regulate a diverse array of cellular events, including the control of cell growth, cytoskeletal reorganization, and the activation of protein kinases. Two transcript variants encoding different isoforms have been found for this gene. [provided by RefSeq, Mar 2009]
Databases:OMIM, HGNC, Ensembl, GeneCard, Gene
Protein:ras-related C3 botulinum toxin substrate 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?
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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 (8)

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: RAC1 (cancer-related)

Liu YY, Tanikawa C, Ueda K, Matsuda K
INKA2, a novel p53 target that interacts with the serine/threonine kinase PAK4.
Int J Oncol. 2019; 54(6):1907-1920 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
The p53 protein is a tumour suppressor and transcription factor that regulates the expression of target genes involved in numerous stress responses systems. In this study, we designed a screening strategy using DNA damage‑induced mouse and human transcriptome data to identify novel downstream targets of p53. Our method selected genes with an induced expression in multiple organs of X‑ray‑irradiated p53 wild‑type mice. The expression of inka box actin regulator 2 gene, known as Inka2, was upregulated in 12 organs when p53 expression was induced. Similarly, INKA2 was induced in a p53‑dependent manner at both the mRNA and protein level in human cells treated with adriamycin. Reporter assays confirmed that p53 directly regulated INKA2 through an intronic binding site. The overexpression of INKA2 produced a slight decrease in cancer cell growth in the colony formation assay. Moreover, the analysis of The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) data revealed a decreased INKA2 expression in tumour samples carrying p53 mutations compared with p53 wild‑type samples. In addition, significantly higher levels of DNA methylation were observed in the INKA2 promoter in tumour samples, concordant with the reduced INKA2 expression in tumour tissues. These results demonstrate the potential of INKA2 as a cancer cell growth inhibitor. Furthermore, INKA2 protein interacts with the serine/threonine‑protein kinase, p21 (RAC1) activated kinase (PAK)4, which phosphorylates β‑catenin to prevent ubiquitin‑proteasomal degradation. As β‑catenin was downregulated in a stable INKA2‑expressing cell line, the findings of this study suggest that INKA2 is a novel, direct downstream target of p53 that potentially decreases cell growth by inhibiting the PAK4‑β‑catenin pathway.

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.

Li Y, Xiao F, Li W, et al.
Overexpression of Opa interacting protein 5 increases the progression of liver cancer via BMPR2/JUN/CHEK1/RAC1 dysregulation.
Oncol Rep. 2019; 41(4):2075-2088 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Opa interacting protein 5 (OIP5) overexpression is associated with human carcinoma. However, its biological function, underlying mechanism and clinical significance in liver cancer remain unknown. In the present study, the effects of OIP5 expression on liver cancer, and the mechanisms regulating these effects, were investigated. OIP5 expression was measured in human hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) tissues and liver cancer cell lines. The effect of OIP5 knockdown on tumorigenesis was also detected in nude mice, and differentially‑expressed genes (DEGs) were identified and their biological functions were identified. The results indicated that OIP5 expression was significantly upregulated in HCC tissues and four liver cancer cell lines (P<0.01). Increased OIP5 protein expression significantly predicted reduced survival rate of patients with HCC (P<0.01). OIP5 knockdown resulted in the suppression of proliferation and colony forming abilities, cell cycle arrest at the G0/G1 or G2/M phases, and promotion of cell apoptosis. A total of 628 DEGs, including 87 upregulated and 541 downregulated genes, were identified following OIP5 knockdown. Functional enrichment analysis indicated that DEGs were involved in 'RNA Post‑Transcriptional Modification, Cancer and Organismal Injury and Abnormalities'. Finally, OIP5 knockdown in Huh7 cells dysregulated bone morphogenetic protein receptor type 2/JUN/checkpoint kinase 1/Rac family small GTPase 1 expression. In conclusion, the overall results demonstrated the involvement of OIP5 in the progression of liver cancer and its mechanism of action.

McGuire S, Kara B, Hart PC, et al.
Inhibition of fascin in cancer and stromal cells blocks ovarian cancer metastasis.
Gynecol Oncol. 2019; 153(2):405-415 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/05/2020 Related Publications
OBJECTIVE: Ovarian cancer (OvCa) metastasis requires the coordinated motility of both cancer and stromal cells. Cellular movement is a dynamic process that involves the synchronized assembly of f-actin bundles into cytoskeletal protrusions by fascin. Fascin directly binds f-actin and is an integral component of filopodia, lamellapodia and stress fibers. Here, we examine the expression pattern and function of fascin in the cancer and stromal cells of OvCa tumors.
METHODS: Fascin expression was evaluated in human cells and tissues using immunohistochemistry and immunofluorescence. The functional role of fascin in cancer and stromal cells was assessed with in vitro functional assays, an ex vivo colonization assay and in vivo metastasis assays using siRNA/shRNA and an inhibitor. The effect of fascin inhibition on Cdc42 and Rac1 activity was evaluated using GTPase activity assays and immunofluorescence.
RESULTS: Fascin expression was found to be higher in the stromal cell, when compared to the cancer cell, compartment of ovarian tumors. The low expression of fascin in the cancer cells of the primary tumor indicated a favorable prognosis for non-serous OvCa patients. In vitro, both knockdown and pharmacologic inhibition of fascin decreased the migration of cancer and stromal cells. The inhibition of fascin impaired Cdc42 and Rac1 activity in cancer cells, and cytoskeletal reorganization in the cancer and stromal cells. Inhibition of fascin ex vivo blocked OvCa cell colonization of human omental tissue and in vivo prevented and reduced OvCa metastases in mice. Likewise, knockdown of fascin specifically in the OvCa cells using a fascin-specific lentiviral-shRNA also blocked metastasis in vivo.
CONCLUSION: This study reveals the therapeutic potential of pharmacologically inhibiting fascin in both cancer and stromal cells of the OvCa tumor microenvironment.

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.

Wudu M, Ren H, Hui L, et al.
DRAM2 acts as an oncogene in non-small cell lung cancer and suppresses the expression of p53.
J Exp Clin Cancer Res. 2019; 38(1):72 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/05/2020 Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Damage-regulated autophagy modulator 2(DRAM2) is associated with autophagy processes. However, the role of DRAM2 in the progression of human neoplasms is still unknown. Here, we show that DRAM2 may act as an oncogenic regulator in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).
METHODS: Tumor specimens from 259 NSCLC patients were collected and analyzed. Transwell migration, cell cycle analysis, MTT and colony formation assays were performed to determine the effect of DRAM2 overexpression and knockdown on NSCLC-cell migration and proliferation. Western blotting confirmed the expression of DRAM2, p53, and the other involved proteins.
RESULTS: DRAM2 was preferentially upregulated in NSCLC tissues and higher expression of DRAM2 in NSCLC correlated with tumor node metastases stage and lymph node metastasis. Additionally, DRAM2 overexpression promoted cell metastasis and proliferation in vitro, while knockdown of DRAM2 expression yielded opposite result. Furthermore, DRAM2 overexpression increased the expression of proteins RAC1, RHOA, RHOC, ROCK1, and decreased RHOB expression, all of which are cell migration factors. DRAM2 overexpression also increased proteins CDK4, CyclinD3, and decreased p27 expression, all of which are cell cycle-related factors. Consistently knocked down DRAM2 had the opposite effect. We also found that DRAM2 expression was negatively correlated to p53 expression. Knockdown of DRAM2 caused an increase of p53 and p21 expression, and overexpression of p53 caused a decrease of DRAM2 expression. Finally, absence of p53 did not influence the function of DRAM2 in NSCLC, but overexpression of p53 repressed its function.
CONCLUSIONS: DRAM2 plays an oncogenic role in NSCLC via regulating p53 expression. Therefore, DRAM2 may act as an oncogene in NSCLC and could serve as a prognostic factor and potential target for NSCLC treatment.

Yang X, Liang R, Liu C, et al.
SOX9 is a dose-dependent metastatic fate determinant in melanoma.
J Exp Clin Cancer Res. 2019; 38(1):17 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/05/2020 Related Publications
BACKGROUND: In this research, we aimed to resolve contradictory results whether SOX9 plays a positive or negative role in melanoma progression and determine whether SOX9 and its closely related member SOX10 share the same or distinct targets in mediating their functions in melanoma.
METHODS: Immunofluorescence, TCGA database and qPCR were used to analyze the correlation between the expression patterns and levels of SOX9, SOX10 and NEDD9 in melanoma patient samples. AlamarBlue, transwell invasion and colony formation assays in melanoma cell lines were conducted to investigate the epistatic relationship between SOX10 and NEDD9, as well as the effects of graded SOX9 expression levels. Lung metastasis was determined by tail vein injection assay. Live cell imaging was conducted to monitor dynamics of melanoma migratory behavior. RHOA and RAC1 activation assays measured the activity of Rho GTPases.
RESULTS: High SOX9 expression was predominantly detected in patients with distant melanoma metastases whereas SOX10 was present in the different stages of melanoma. Both SOX9 and SOX10 exhibited distinct but overlapping expression patterns with metastatic marker NEDD9. Accordingly, SOX10 was required for NEDD9 expression, which partly mediated its oncogenic functions in melanoma cells. Compensatory upregulation of SOX9 expression in SOX10-inhibited melanoma cells reduced growth and migratory capacity, partly due to elevated expression of cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor p21 and lack of NEDD9 induction. Conversely, opposite phenomenon was observed when SOX9 expression was further elevated to a range of high SOX9 expression levels in metastatic melanoma specimens, and that high levels of SOX9 can restore melanoma progression in the absence of SOX10 both in vitro and in vivo. In addition, overexpression of SOX9 can also promote invasiveness of the parental melanoma cells by modulating the expression of various matrix metalloproteinases. SOX10 or high SOX9 expression regulates melanoma mesenchymal migration through the NEDD9-mediated focal adhesion dynamics and Rho GTPase signaling.
CONCLUSIONS: These results unravel NEDD9 as a common target for SOX10 or high SOX9 to partly mediate their oncogenic events, and most importantly, reconcile previous discrepancies that suboptimal level of SOX9 expression is anti-metastatic whereas high level of SOX9 is metastatic in a heterogeneous population of melanoma.

Karvonen H, Perttilä R, Niininen W, et al.
Wnt5a and ROR1 activate non-canonical Wnt signaling via RhoA in TCF3-PBX1 acute lymphoblastic leukemia and highlight new treatment strategies via Bcl-2 co-targeting.
Oncogene. 2019; 38(17):3288-3300 [PubMed] Related Publications
B-cell precursor acute lymphoblastic leukemia (BCP-ALL) with TCF3-PBX1 fusion gene expression has constitutively elevated levels of Wnt16b and ROR1 (receptor tyrosine kinase-like orphan receptor), a ligand and a receptor from the Wnt signaling pathway, respectively. Although survival rate is usually high after the initial chemotherapy, many TCF3-PBX1 BCP-ALL patients relapse and subsequently develop treatment resistance, resulting in poor prognosis. Here, we aimed to investigate the molecular signaling associated with Wnt16b and ROR1 overexpression in TCF3-PBX1 cell lines and primary samples, and to identify effective treatment options via ROR1 targeting. We detected higher ROR1 expression on TCF3-PBX1 leukemic cells even at a later stage of patient relapse, providing a strong rationale for the use of ROR1-targeted therapy. We found that Wnt5a-ROR1 signaling enhances proliferation of TCF3-PBX1 cells via RhoA/Rac1 GTPases activation and STAT3 upregulation. Wnt16b also activated the RhoA/Rac1 signaling cascade suggesting the activation of a non-canonical Wnt pathway in TCF3-PBX1 cells. Wnt16 could interact with ROR1 but not in TCF3-PBX1 cells, suggesting that Wnt5a is the ligand signaling via ROR1 in TCF3-PBX1 cells. By high throughput drug-sensitivity testing of TCF3-PBX1 cells before and after ROR1 knockdown we found that targeting ROR1 significantly improves the therapeutic efficacy of Bcl-2 family inhibitors venetoclax and navitoclax, and this synergism was confirmed ex vivo using a drug-resistant primary sample from a relapsed TCF3-PBX1 patient. Our work underlines a new type of targeted combination therapy that could be clinically advantageous for patients with TCF3-PBX1 BCP-ALL.

Dai B, Zhang X, Shang R, et al.
Blockade of ARHGAP11A reverses malignant progress via inactivating Rac1B in hepatocellular carcinoma.
Cell Commun Signal. 2018; 16(1):99 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/05/2020 Related Publications
BACKGROUND: The molecular signaling events involving in high malignancy and poor prognosis of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) are extremely complicated. Blockade of currently known targets has not yet led to successful clinical outcome. More understanding about the regulatory mechanisms in HCC is necessary for developing new effective therapeutic strategies for HCC patients.
METHODS: The expression of Rho GTPase-activating protein 11A (ARHGAP11A) was examined in human normal liver and HCC tissues. The correlations between ARHGAP11A expression and clinicopathological stage or prognosis in HCC patients were analyzed. ARHGAP11A was downregulated to determine its role in the proliferation, invasion, migration, epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) development, and regulatory signaling of HCC cells in vitro and in vivo.
RESULTS: ARHGAP11A exhibited high expression in HCC, and was significantly correlated with clinicopathological stage and prognosis in HCC patients. Moreover, ARHGAP11A facilitated Hep3B and MHCC97-H cell proliferation, invasion, migration and EMT development in vitro. ARHGAP11A knockdown significantly inhibited the in vivo growth and metastasis of HCC cells. Furthermore, ARHGAP11A directly interacted with Rac1B independent of Rho GTPase- activating activity. Rac1B blockade effectively interrupted ARHGAP11A-elicited HCC malignant phenotype. Meanwhile, upregulation of Rac1B reversed ARHGAP11A knockdown mediated mesenchymal-to-epithelial transition (MET) development in HCC cells.
CONCLUSION: ARHGAP11A facilitates malignant progression in HCC patients via ARHGAP11A-Rac1B interaction. The ARHGAP11A/Rac1B signaling could be a potential therapeutic target in the clinical treatment of HCC.

Aspenström P
Activated Rho GTPases in Cancer-The Beginning of a New Paradigm.
Int J Mol Sci. 2018; 19(12) [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/05/2020 Related Publications
Involvement of Rho GTPases in cancer has been a matter of debate since the identification of the first members of this branch of the Ras superfamily of small GTPases. The Rho GTPases were ascribed important roles in the cell, although these were restricted to regulation of cytoskeletal dynamics, cell morphogenesis, and cell locomotion, with initially no clear indications of direct involvement in cancer progression. This paradigm has been challenged by numerous observations that Rho-regulated pathways are often dysregulated in cancers. More recently, identification of point mutants in the Rho GTPases Rac1, RhoA, and Cdc42 in human tumors has finally given rise to a new paradigm, and we can now state with confidence that Rho GTPases serve as oncogenes in several human cancers. This article provides an exposé of current knowledge of the roles of activated Rho GTPases in cancers.

Ye YP, Jiao HL, Wang SY, et al.
Hypermethylation of DMTN promotes the metastasis of colorectal cancer cells by regulating the actin cytoskeleton through Rac1 signaling activation.
J Exp Clin Cancer Res. 2018; 37(1):299 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/05/2020 Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Colorectal cancer (CRC) is one of the most common digestive malignant tumors, and DMTN is a transcriptionally differentially expressed gene that was identified using CRC mRNA sequencing data from The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA). Our preliminary work suggested that the expression of DMTN was downregulated in CRC, and the Rac1 signaling pathway was significantly enriched in CRC tissues with low DMTN expression. However, the specific functions and underlying molecular mechanisms of DMTN in the progression of CRC and the upstream factors regulating the downregulation of the gene remain unclear.
METHODS: DMTN expression was analyzed in CRC tissues, and the relationship between DMTN expression and the clinicopathological parameters was analyzed. In vitro and in vivo experimental models were used to detect the effects of DMTN dysregulation on invasion and metastasis of CRC cells. GSEA assay was performed to explore the mechanism of DMTN in invasion and metastasis of CRC. Westernblot, Co-IP and GST-Pull-Down assay were used to detect the interaction between DMTN and ARHGEF2, as well as the activation of the RAC1 signaling. Bisulfite genomic sequence (BSP) assay was used to test the degree of methylation of DMTN gene promoter in CRC tissues.
RESULTS: We found that the expression of DMTN was significantly decreased in CRC tissues, and the downregulation of DMTN was associated with advanced progression and poor survival and was regarded as an independent predictive factor of CRC patient prognosis. The overexpression of DMTN inhibited, while the knockdown of DMTN promoted, invasion and metastasis in CRC cells. Moreover, hypermethylation and the deletion of DMTN relieved binding to the ARHGEF2 protein, activated the Rac1 signaling pathway, regulated actin cytoskeletal rearrangements, and promoted the invasion and metastasis of CRC cells.
CONCLUSION: Our study demonstrated that the downregulation of DMTN promoted the metastasis of colorectal cancer cells by regulating the actin cytoskeleton through RAC1 signaling activation, potentially providing a new therapeutic target to enable cancer precision medicine for CRC patients.

Malicherova B, Burjanivova T, Minarikova E, et al.
Detection of driver mutations in FFPE samples from patients with verified malignant melanoma.
Neoplasma. 2019; 66(1):33-38 [PubMed] Related Publications
Malignant melanoma is an oncological disease characterized by etiologic heterogeneity and it has increasing incidence and mortality in the Slovak Republic. While it is treated surgically in combination with chemotherapy, targeted therapy, and immunotherapy, malignant melanomas can ulcerate and are susceptible to infections. These are highly aggressive cancers with metastasis, and recent studies have shown the presence of mutations in RAC1, PPP6C and STK19 genes in melanoma patients. Mutations in these genes are driver mutations; important in oncogenesis and providing selective advantage to tumor cells. The aim of our study is to establish a method to detect driver mutations in formalin-fixed, paraffin embedded (FFPE) tissue DNA. We applied Sanger sequencing to detect driver somatic mutations in RAC1, PPP6C, STK19 and BRAF genes in patients with malignant melanoma. Confirmation of BRAF V600E mutation was obtained by allele-specific PCR. The BRAF V600E mutation was present in 15 of 113 patients (13.2%) and the driver mutation in 7 of 113 patients (6.2 %). Our results demonstrate that Sanger sequencing analysis detects mutations in FFPE clinical samples. The identification of these somatic driver mutations in samples with verified malignant melanomas enabled development of a molecular classification of melanomas, and our study provides evidence of diversity of novel driver mutations implicated in malignant melanoma pathogenesis. These findings could have very important implications for targeted therapy.

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.

Zhang F, Ying L, Jin J, et al.
GAP43, a novel metastasis promoter in non-small cell lung cancer.
J Transl Med. 2018; 16(1):310 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/05/2020 Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Brain metastasis is an extremely serious sequela with a dismal prognosis in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). The present study aimed to identify novel biomarkers and potential therapeutic targets for brain metastases of NSCLC.
METHODS: We performed high-throughput Luminex assays to profile the transcriptional levels of 36 genes in 70 operable NSCLC patients, among whom 37 developed brain metastases as the first relapse within 3 years after surgery. The Cox proportional hazards regression model was used to evaluate the association between genes and brain metastases. Wound healing assay and transwell assay was carried out to estimate the function of target gene in vitro. And left ventricular injection on nude mice was used to evaluate the effect of target gene in vivo.
RESULTS: Growth-associated protein 43 (GAP43) was found to be related to brain metastasis. Multivariate Cox regression analysis showed that NSCLC patients with elevated GAP43 had a 3.29-fold increase in the risk for brain metastasis compared with those with low levels (95% confidence interval: 1.55-7.00; P = 0.002). Kaplan-Meier survival curves revealed that GAP43 was also associated with overall survival. Analysis of a cohort of 1926 NSCLC patients showed similar results: patients with high levels of GAP43 had worse progression-free and overall survival rates. Furthermore, in vitro experiments showed that GAP43 facilitated cell migration. Animal studies demonstrated that GAP43-silenced NSCLC cells were less likely to metastasize to the brain and bone than control cells. Immunofluorescence and F-actin/G-actin in vivo assays indicated that GAP43 knockdown triggered depolymerization of the F-actin cytoskeleton. Rho GTPase activation assays showed that Rac1 was deactivated after GAP43 was silenced.
CONCLUSIONS: Our findings suggest that GAP43 is an independent predictor of NSCLC brain metastasis and that it may facilitate metastasis by regulating the Rac1/F-actin pathway.

Zepecki JP, Snyder KM, Moreno MM, et al.
Regulation of human glioma cell migration, tumor growth, and stemness gene expression using a Lck targeted inhibitor.
Oncogene. 2019; 38(10):1734-1750 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/05/2020 Related Publications
Migration of human glioma cells (hGCs) within the brain parenchyma makes glioblastoma one of the most aggressive and lethal tumors. Studies of the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying hGC migration are hindered by the limitations of existing glioma models. Here we developed a dorsal root ganglion axon-oligodendrocyte-hGC co-culture to study in real time the migration and interaction of hGCs with their microenvironment. hGCs interact with myelinated and non-myelinated axons through the formation of pseudopodia. Isolation of pseudopodia-localized polysome-bound RNA reveals transcripts of Lck, Paxillin, Crk-II, and Rac1 that undergo local translation. Inhibition of Lck phosphorylation using a small-molecule inhibitor (Lck-I), blocks the phosphorylation of Paxillin and Crk-II, the formation of pseudopodia and the migration of hGCs. In vivo intraventricular administration of the Lck-I using an orthotopic xenograft glioma model, results in statistically significant inhibition of tumor size and significant down-regulation of Nanog-targeted genes, which are associated with glioblastoma patient survival. Moreover, treatment of human glioma stem cells (hGSCs) with Lck-I, results in significant inhibition of self-renewal and tumor-sphere formation. The involvement of Lck in different levels of glioma malignant progression, such as migration, tumor growth, and regulation of cancer stemness, makes Lck a potentially important therapeutic target for human glioblastomas.

Xie L, Li LY, Zheng D, et al.
F806 Suppresses the Invasion and Metastasis of Esophageal Squamous Cell Carcinoma via Downregulating F-Actin Assembly-Related Rho Family Proteins.
Biomed Res Int. 2018; 2018:2049313 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/05/2020 Related Publications
Invasion and metastasis are critical pathological and mortal processes in esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC). Novel drugs, targeting the two cancer migration stages, will augment the treatment options for ESCC therapy and improve overall survival. A novel natural macrolide F806 specifically promotes apoptosis of various ESCC cells. However, whether F806 can inhibit metastasis of ESCC cells needs further evaluation. Here, our data showed that F806 inhibits dynamic F-actin assembly and then suppresses the migration of ESCC cells in vitro and their invasion and metastasis in vivo. The correlation between cancer migration and actin cytoskeleton assembly was consistent with the ability of F806 to prevent the aggregation of Paxillin, an essential protein for focal adhesion formation through binding to the ends of actin filaments. Furthermore, F806 downregulated the expression and activity of the Rho family proteins cell division cycle 42 (CDC42), RAC family small GTPase 1 (RAC1), and RAS homolog family member A (RHOA). Taken together, these results suggest that F806 can suppress cancer invasion and metastasis via interrupting the assembly of migration components involving F-actin.

Li D, Pan Y, Huang Y, et al.
PAK5 Induces EMT and Promotes Cell Migration and Invasion by Activating the PI3K/AKT Pathway in Ovarian Cancer.
Anal Cell Pathol (Amst). 2018; 2018:8073124 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/05/2020 Related Publications
Ovarian cancer is the most lethal gynecologic cancer and currently ranks fifth in causing cancer-related deaths among women. P21

Taniuchi K, Furihata M, Naganuma S, Saibara T
ARHGEF4 predicts poor prognosis and promotes cell invasion by influencing ERK1/2 and GSK-3α/β signaling in pancreatic cancer.
Int J Oncol. 2018; 53(5):2224-2240 [PubMed] Related Publications
Rho guanine nucleotide exchange factor 4 (ARHGEF4) is a guanine nucleotide exchange factor that is specific for Rac1 and Cdc42. The aim of the present study was to investigate the role of ARHGEF4 in the motility and invasiveness of pancreatic cancer cells. Evaluation of an immunohistochemical staining of 102 resected pancreatic cancer samples demonstrated that high ARHGEF4 expression was correlated with an independent predictor of worse overall survival in univariate and multivariate analyses. Immunofluorescence analyses and Matrigel invasion assays demonstrated that suppression of ARHGEF4 inhibited the formation of membrane protrusions, and in turn inhibited cell motility and invasion. A phosphoprotein array analysis demonstrated that knockdown of ARHGEF4 decreased phosphorylated extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK)1/2 and glycogen synthase kinase-3 (GSK-3)α/β in pancreatic cancer cells, and ERK1/2 and GSK-3α/β were associated with ARHGEF4-related motility and invasiveness through an increase in cell protrusions. These results suggested that ARHGEF4 stimulates ERK1/2 and GSK-3α/β, and provided evidence that ARHGEF4 promotes cell motility and invasiveness. Inhibition of ARHGEF4 may be a novel approach to a targeted molecular therapy, as any such therapy would limit the motility and invasiveness of pancreatic cancer cells.

Niu X, Gao Z, Qi S, et al.
Macropinocytosis activated by oncogenic Dbl enables specific targeted delivery of Tat/pDNA nano-complexes into ovarian cancer cells.
Int J Nanomedicine. 2018; 13:4895-4911 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/05/2020 Related Publications
Background: Successful implementation of gene therapy heavily relies on efficiently delivering genetic materials and specific targeting into cells. Oncogene-driven endocytosis stimulates nutrient uptake and also develops an endocytosis-mediated defense against therapeutic agents. Cell-penetrating peptides, typically HIV-Tat, are well known for efficient delivery of nucleic acid drugs but lack targeting specificity. Various passive targeting strategies were pursued to enhance the tumor targeting efficiency; however, they are still limited by complicated cellular endocytosis routes and the heterogeneity of cancer types.
Methods: Tat/pDNA complexes were noncovalently compacted and their physiochemical properties were determined. The siRNA pool and pLV-RNAi-GFP lentivirus were used to knock down
Results: pGL3 plasmid DNA was noncovalently compacted with the Tat peptide into nano-size complexes at high N/P ratios. Macropinocytosis, a clathrin- and caveolin-independent endocytosis process, was shown to contribute to the uptake of middle-sized (∼600 nm) Tat/pGL3 complexes. Cell-type-specific variation in macropinocytosis was essentially controlled by the action of the
Conclusion: Such an aspect can be exploited to selectively confer targeted delivery of Tat/pDNA nano-complexes into ovarian cancer cells. Our work provides a novel alternative for targeted delivery of cell-penetrating peptide-based nucleic acid drugs into certain tumor types if specific endocytosis pathways are used.

Heriady Y, Achmad D, Hernowo BS, et al.
Expression of the RAC1, RHOA and CXCR4 proteins and their interaction as risk factors for infiltration to the nipple areola complex in operable breast carcinoma.
Breast Cancer. 2019; 26(2):172-179 [PubMed] Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Nipple areola complex (NAC) infiltration in operable breast carcinoma (OBC) is associated with local recurrence. NAC infiltration in OBC suggests that RAC1, RHOA and CXCR4 proteins are risk factors for migration and infiltration of OBC to NAC. This study aims to analyze the expression and interactions of these proteins as risk factors for NAC infiltration in OBC.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: This is an analytic observational cross-sectional study coupled with a categorical comparative study in each 40 subjects of OBC with and without NAC infiltration. The immunohistochemistry performed with a cut-off point based on the result of a receiver operating characteristics (ROC).
RESULTS: RAC1, p < 0.001 with POR 5.76, 95% CI: 2.06-16.08; RHOA, p < 0.001 with POR 7.00, 95% CI: 2.28-21.53; and CXCR4, p = 0.001 with POR 6.33, 95% CI 2.06-19.49. There was an interaction between RAC1 and RHOA (p < 0.001 with POR 17.14, 95% CI: 3.07-125.66); between RAC1 and CXCR4 (p < 0.001 with POR 30.93, 95% CI 3.62-686.89); between RHOA and CXCR4 (p < 0.001 with POR 10.21, 95% CI 2.19-54.17); and between the RAC1, RHOA and CXCR4 proteins (p < 0.001 with POR = 23.69, 95% CI 2.51-544.86).
CONCLUSION: We conclude that the expression of the RAC1, RHOA, and CXCR4 proteins and their interactions play a role as risk factors of NAC infiltration.

Jiang ZB, Ma BQ, Liu SG, et al.
miR-365 regulates liver cancer stem cells via RAC1 pathway.
Mol Carcinog. 2019; 58(1):55-65 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/05/2020 Related Publications
Liver cancer stem cells (CSCs) were involved in tumorigenesis, progression, recurrence, and drug resistance of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). miR-365 was downregulated in hepatocellular carcinoma and inhibited HCC cell proliferation and invasion. However, the role of miR-365 in liver cancer stem cells was unknown. Herein, we observed a remarkable decrease of miR-365 expression in CD133 or EpCAM-positive liver CSCs as well as in CSC-enriched hepatoma spheres. Up-regulated miR-365 suppressed liver CSC expansion by inhibiting the dedifferentiation of hepatoma cells and decreasing the self-renewal ability of liver CSCs. Mechanistically, bioinformatic and luciferase reporter analysis identified Ras-related C3 botulinum toxin substrate 1 (RAC1) as a direct target of miR-365. Overexpression of miR-365 in hepatoma cells downregulated the RAC1 mRNA and protein expression. RAC1 also could promote the expansion of liver CSCs. The special RAC1 inhibitor EHop-106 or RAC1 overexpression abolished the discrepancy in liver CSC proportion and the self-renewal capacity between miR-365 overexpression hepatoma cells and control cells, which further confirmed that RAC1 was required in miR-365-suppressed liver CSCs expansion. miR-365 was downregulated in liver CSCs and could inhibit HCC cells dedifferentiation and liver CSCs expansion by targeting RAC1 signaling.

Guo H, Xiang Z, Zhang Y, Sun D
Inhibiting 6-phosphogluconate dehydrogenase enhances chemotherapy efficacy in cervical cancer via AMPK-independent inhibition of RhoA and Rac1.
Clin Transl Oncol. 2019; 21(4):404-411 [PubMed] Related Publications
BACKGROUND: The oxidative pentose phosphate pathway (PPP) is essential for cancer metabolism and growth. However, the contribution of 6-phosphogluconate dehydrogenase (6PGD), a key enzyme of PPP, to cervical cancer development remains largely unknown.
METHODS: mRNA and protein levels of 6PGD were analyzed in cervical cancer cells and tissues derived from patients and compared to normal counterparts. Using cell culture system and xenograft mouse model, the functions of 6PGD in cervical cancer are determined and its molecular mechanism is analyzed. 6PGD inhibitor physcion and siRNA knockdown were used.
RESULTS: In this work, we demonstrate that 6PGD is aberrantly upregulated and activated in cervical cancer cells and patient tissues compared to normal counterparts. Using different approaches and preclinical models, we show that 6PGD inhibition decreases growth and migration, and enhances chemosensitivity in cervical cancer. Mechanistically, inhibition of 6PGD activates AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) and decreases RhoA and Rac1 activities. AMPK depletion significantly reduces the effects of 6PGD inhibition in decreasing RhoA and Rac1 activities, growth and migration in cervical cancer cells.
CONCLUSIONS: Our work is the first to demonstrate the aberrant expression of 6PGD and its predominant roles in cervical cancer cell growth and migration, via a AMPK-dependent activation. Our findings suggest 6PGD as a potential therapeutic target to enhance chemosensitivity in cervical cancer.

Zhang X, Liu L, Deng X, et al.
MicroRNA 483-3p targets Pard3 to potentiate TGF-β1-induced cell migration, invasion, and epithelial-mesenchymal transition in anaplastic thyroid cancer cells.
Oncogene. 2019; 38(5):699-715 [PubMed] Related Publications
Anaplastic thyroid cancer (ATC) is associated with poor prognosis and is often untreatable. MicroRNA 483-3p (miR-483) and partitioning-defective 3 (Pard3), a member of the Pard family, have functions and regulatory mechanisms in ATC. The abnormal regulation of miR-483 may play an important role in tumorigenesis, and Par3 is known to regulate cell polarity, cell migration, and cell division. Tumor proliferation promoted by the regulation of miRNA expression can be regulated in thyroid cancer by upregulating transforming growth factor-β1 (TGF-β1), which is thought to interact with Pard3. When compared with adjacent non-tumor tissues, we found that miR-483 was upregulated and Pard3 was downregulated in 80 thyroid tumor samples. Disease-free survival was decreased when expression of miR-483 was upregulated and Pard3 expression was downregulated. Cell growth, migration, and invasion were induced by overexpression of miR-483. However, knockdown of miR-483 resulted in a loss of cell invasion and viability, both in vitro and in vivo. The expression of Pard3 was increased by the inhibition of miR-483, but TGF-β1-induced cell migration and invasion were decreased by miR-483 inhibition. A dual-luciferase reporter assay determined that Pard3 expression was downregulated when targeted with miR-483. The epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT), as well as Tiam1-Rac signaling, was induced by TGF-β1, which was decreased by the overexpression of Pard3. Pard3 decreased the inhibition of EMT and Tiam-Rac1 signaling, which resulted from transfection of ATC cells with miR-483. Overall, the results showed that downregulation of Pard3 resulted in increased cell invasion and EMT in ATC, which was promoted by treatment with miR-483. These findings suggest novel therapeutic targets and treatment strategies for this disease.

Csoboz B, Gombos I, Tatrai E, et al.
Chemotherapy induced PRL3 expression promotes cancer growth via plasma membrane remodeling and specific alterations of caveolae-associated signaling.
Cell Commun Signal. 2018; 16(1):51 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/05/2020 Related Publications
BACKGROUND: The outcome of cancer therapy is greatly defined by the ability of a tumor cell to evade treatment and re-establish its bulk mass after medical interventions. Consequently, there is an urgent need for the characterization of molecules affecting tumor reoccurrence. The phosphatase of regenerating liver 3 (PRL3) protein was recently emerged among the targets that could affect such a phenomenon.
METHODS: The expression induction of PRL3 in melanoma cells treated with chemotherapeutic agents was assessed by western blotting. The effect of PRL3 expression on cancer growth was investigated both in vitro and in vivo. The association of PRL3 with the caveolae structures of the plasma membrane was analyzed by detergent free raft purification. The effect of PRL3 expression on the membrane organization was assayed by electron microscopy and by membrane biophysical measurements. Purification of the plasma membrane fraction and co-immunoprecipitation were used to evaluate the altered protein composition of the plasma membrane upon PRL3 expression.
RESULTS: Here, we identified PRL3 as a genotoxic stress-induced oncogene whose expression is significantly increased by the presence of classical antitumor therapeutics. Furthermore, we successfully connected the presence of this oncogene with increased tumor growth, which implies that tumor cells can utilize PRL3 effects as a survival strategy. We further demonstrated the molecular mechanism that is connected with the pro-growth action of PRL3, which is closely associated with its localization to the caveolae-type lipid raft compartment of the plasma membrane. In our study, PRL3 was associated with distinct changes in the plasma membrane structure and in the caveolar proteome, such as the dephosphorylation of integrin β1 at Thr788/Thr789 and the increased partitioning of Rac1 to the plasma membrane. These alterations at the plasma membrane were further associated with the elevation of cyclin D1 in the nucleus.
CONCLUSIONS: This study identifies PRL3 as an oncogene upregulated in cancer cells upon exposure to anticancer therapeutics. Furthermore, this work contributes to the existing knowledge on PRL3 function by characterizing its association with the caveolae-like domains of the plasma membrane and their resident proteins.

Wu H, Larribère L, Sun Q, et al.
Loss of neural crest-associated gene FOXD1 impairs melanoma invasion and migration via RAC1B downregulation.
Int J Cancer. 2018; 143(11):2962-2972 [PubMed] Related Publications
Recent studies suggest that malignant melanoma heterogeneity includes subpopulations of cells with features of multipotent neural crest (NC) cells. Zebrafish and mouse models have shown that reactivation of neural crest-specific pathways during transformation determines the invasiveness of melanoma cells. In our study, we show that the neural crest-associated transcription factor FOXD1 plays a key role in the invasion and the migration capacities of metastatic melanomas both in vivo and in vitro. Gene expression profiling analysis identified both an upregulation of FOXD1 in NC and melanoma cells, as well as a downregulation of several genes related to cell invasion in FOXD1 knockdown cells, including MMP9 and RAC1B. Furthermore, we demonstrate that knockdown of RAC1B a tumor-specific isoform of RAC1, significantly impaired melanoma cell migration and invasion and could abrogate enhanced invasiveness induced by FOXD1 overexpression. We conclude that FOXD1 may influence invasion and migration via indirect regulation of MMP9 and RAC1B alternative splicing in melanoma cells.

Li W, Xiong X, Abdalla A, et al.
HGF-induced formation of the MET-AXL-ELMO2-DOCK180 complex promotes RAC1 activation, receptor clustering, and cancer cell migration and invasion.
J Biol Chem. 2018; 293(40):15397-15418 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 05/10/2019 Related Publications

Weissenrieder JS, Reilly JE, Neighbors JD, Hohl RJ
Inhibiting geranylgeranyl diphosphate synthesis reduces nuclear androgen receptor signaling and neuroendocrine differentiation in prostate cancer cell models.
Prostate. 2019; 79(1):21-30 [PubMed] Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Following androgen deprivation for the treatment of advanced adenocarcinoma of the prostate, tumors can progress to neuroendocrine prostate cancer (NEPC). This transdifferentiation process is poorly understood, but trafficking of transcriptional factors and/or cytoskeletal rearrangements may be involved. We observed the role of geranylgeranylation in this process by treatment with digeranyl bisphosphonate (DGBP), a selective inhibitor of geranylgeranyl pyrophosphate synthase which blocks the prenylation of small GTPases such as Rho and Rab family proteins, including Cdc42 and Rac1.
METHODS: We examined the therapeutic potential of DGBP in LNCaP, C4-2B4, and 22Rv1 cell culture models. Cell morphology and protein expression were quantified to observe the development of the neuroendocrine phenotype in androgen-deprivation and abiraterone-treated LNCaP models of NEPC development. Luciferase reporter assays were utilized to examine AR activity, and immunofluorescence visualized the localization of AR within the cell.
RESULTS: Essential genes in the isoprenoid pathway, such as HMGCR, MVK, GGPS1, and GGT1, were highly expressed in a subset of castration resistant prostate cancers reported by Beltran et al. Under treatment with DGBP, nuclear localization of AR decreased in LNCaP, 22Rv1, and C4-2B4 cell lines, luciferase reporter activity was reduced in LNCaP and 22Rv1, and AR target gene transcription also decreased in LNCaP. Conversely, nuclear localization of AR was enhanced by the addition of GGOH. Finally, induction of the NEPC structural and molecular phenotype via androgen deprivation in LNCaP cells was inhibited by DGBP in a GGOH-dependent manner.
CONCLUSIONS: DGBP is a novel compound with the potential to reduce AR transcriptional activity and inhibit PCa progression to NEPC phenotype. These results suggest that DGBP may be used to block cell growth and metastasis in both hormone therapy sensitive and resistant paradigms.

Lorenzo-Martín LF, Citterio C, Menacho-Márquez M, et al.
Vav proteins maintain epithelial traits in breast cancer cells using miR-200c-dependent and independent mechanisms.
Oncogene. 2019; 38(2):209-227 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 05/10/2019 Related Publications
The bidirectional regulation of epithelial-mesenchymal transitions (EMT) is key in tumorigenesis. Rho GTPases regulate this process via canonical pathways that impinge on the stability of cell-to-cell contacts, cytoskeletal dynamics, and cell invasiveness. Here, we report that the Rho GTPase activators Vav2 and Vav3 utilize a new Rac1-dependent and miR-200c-dependent mechanism that maintains the epithelial state by limiting the abundance of the Zeb2 transcriptional repressor in breast cancer cells. In parallel, Vav proteins engage a mir-200c-independent expression prometastatic program that maintains epithelial cell traits only under 3D culture conditions. Consistent with this, the depletion of endogenous Vav proteins triggers mesenchymal features in epithelioid breast cancer cells. Conversely, the ectopic expression of an active version of Vav2 promotes mesenchymal-epithelial transitions using E-cadherin-dependent and independent mechanisms depending on the mesenchymal breast cancer cell line used. In silico analyses suggest that the negative Vav anti-EMT pathway is operative in luminal breast tumors. Gene signatures from the Vav-associated proepithelial and prometastatic programs have prognostic value in breast cancer patients.

Gao X, Xu W, Lu T, et al.
MicroRNA-142-3p Promotes Cellular Invasion of Colorectal Cancer Cells by Activation of RAC1.
Technol Cancer Res Treat. 2018; 17:1533033818790508 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 05/10/2019 Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Colorectal cancer has been proved more difficult to treat owing to potently malignant metastasis. The present study was aimed to explore the functional role of miR-142-3p in cell migration and invasion of colorectal cancer cells, as well as its underlying mechanism.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: Expressions of miR-142-3p were analyzed in colorectal cancer tissues and cell lines. Ras-related C3 botulinum toxin substrate 1 (RAC1) was predicted as a target of miR-142-3p using software and network resources. SW480 cells were transfected with miR-142-3p expression plasmid and miR-142-3p silencer plasmid, and the expression of RAC1 and the cellular invasion were measured.
RESULTS: In colorectal cancer cells transfected with miR-142-3p expression plasmid, RAC1 was specifically upregulated and invasiveness of cells was downregulated. Moreover, RAC1 was significantly associated with tumor stage ( P = .029) and tumor metastasis ( P = .012).
CONCLUSION: miR-142-3p promotes cellular invasion in colorectal cancer cells by activating RAC1. Thereby, miR-142-3p is a potential candidate for molecular targeted therapy of colorectal cancer.

Borin M, Saraceno C, Catania M, et al.
Rac1 activation links tau hyperphosphorylation and Aβ dysmetabolism in Alzheimer's disease.
Acta Neuropathol Commun. 2018; 6(1):61 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 05/10/2019 Related Publications
One of the earliest pathological features characterizing Alzheimer's disease (AD) is the loss of dendritic spines. Among the many factors potentially mediating this loss of neuronal connectivity, the contribution of Rho-GTPases is of particular interest. This family of proteins has been known for years as a key regulator of actin cytoskeleton remodeling. More recent insights have indicated how its complex signaling might be triggered also in pathological conditions. Here, we showed that the Rho-GTPase family member Rac1 levels decreased in the frontal cortex of AD patients compared to non-demented controls. Also, Rac1 increased in plasma samples of AD patients with Mini-Mental State Examination < 18 compared to age-matched non demented controls. The use of different constitutively active peptides allowed us to investigate in vitro Rac1 specific signaling. Its activation increased the processing of amyloid precursor protein and induced the translocation of SET from the nucleus to the cytoplasm, resulting in tau hyperphosphorylation at residue pT181. Notably, Rac1 was abnormally activated in the hippocampus of 6-week-old 3xTg-AD mice. However, the total protein levels decreased at 7-months. A rescue strategy based on the intranasal administration of Rac1 active peptide at 6.5 months prevented dendritic spine loss. This data suggests the intriguing possibility of a dual role of Rac1 according to the different stages of the pathology. In an initial stage, Rac1 deregulation might represent a triggering co-factor due to the direct effect on Aβ and tau. However, at a later stage of the pathology, it might represent a potential therapeutic target due to the beneficial effect on spine dynamics.

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