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The serine/threonine protein kinase casein kinase 1α (CK1α) functions as a negative regulator of Wnt signaling, phosphorylating β-catenin at serine 45 (P-S45) to initiate its eventual ubiquitin-mediated degradation. We previously showed that the repurposed, FDA-approved anthelminthic drug pyrvinium potently inhibits Wnt signaling and Moreover, we proposed that pyrvinium's Wnt inhibitory activity was the result of its function as an activator of CK1α. An understanding of the mechanism by which pyrvinium activates CK1α is important because pyrvinium was given an orphan drug designation by the FDA to treat familial adenomatous polyposis, a precancerous condition driven by constitutive Wnt signaling. In the current study, we show that pyrvinium stimulates the phosphorylation of S45 β-catenin, a known CK1α substrate, in a cell-based assay, and does so in a dose- and time-dependent manner. Alternative splicing of CK1α results in four forms of the protein with distinct biological properties. We evaluated these splice products and identified the CK1α splice variant, CK1αS, as the form that exhibits the most robust response to pyrvinium in cells. Kinetic studies indicate that pyrvinium also stimulates the kinase activity of purified, recombinant CK1αS , increasing its catalytic efficiency (/) toward substrates. These studies provide strong and clear mechanistic evidence that pyrvinium enhances CK1α kinase activity.
Extracellular signal-regulated kinases (ERK1/2) are mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPKs) that play a pro-tumorigenic role in numerous cancers. ERK1/2 possess two protein-docking sites that are distinct from the active site: the D-recruitment site (DRS) and the F-recruitment site. These docking sites facilitate substrate recognition, intracellular localization, signaling specificity, and protein complex assembly. Targeting these sites on ERK in a therapeutic context may overcome many problems associated with traditional ATP-competitive inhibitors. Here, we identified a new class of inhibitors that target the ERK DRS by screening a synthetic combinatorial library of more than 30 million compounds. The screen detects the competitive displacement of a fluorescent peptide from the DRS of ERK2. The top molecular scaffold from the screen was optimized for structure-activity relationship by positional scanning of different functional groups. This resulted in 10 compounds with similar binding affinities and a shared core structure consisting of a tertiary amine hub with three functionalized cyclic guanidino branches. Compound 2507-1 inhibited ERK2 from phosphorylating a DRS-targeting substrate and prevented the phosphorylation of ERK2 by a constitutively active MEK1 (MAPK/ERK kinase 1) mutant. Interaction between an analogue, 2507-8, and the ERK2 DRS was confirmed by nuclear magnetic resonance and X-ray crystallography. 2507-8 forms critical interactions at the common docking domain residue Asp319 via an arginine-like moiety that is shared by all 10 hits, suggesting a common binding mode. The structural and biochemical insights reported here provide the basis for developing new ERK inhibitors that are not ATP-competitive but instead function by disrupting critical protein-protein interactions.
Tumor vasculature is known to be more permeable than the vasculature found in healthy tissue, which in turn can lead to a more aggressive tumor phenotype and impair drug delivery into tumors. While the stiffening of the stroma surrounding solid tumors has been reported to increase vascular permeability, the mechanism of this process remains unclear. Here, we utilize an in vitro model of tumor stiffening, ex ovo culture, and a mouse model to investigate the molecular mechanism by which matrix stiffening alters endothelial barrier function. Our data indicate that the increased endothelial permeability caused by heightened matrix stiffness can be prevented by pharmaceutical inhibition of focal adhesion kinase (FAK) both in vitro and ex ovo. Matrix stiffness-mediated FAK activation determines Src localization to cell-cell junctions, which then induces increased vascular endothelial cadherin phosphorylation both in vitro and in vivo. Endothelial cells in stiff tumors have more activated Src and higher levels of phosphorylated vascular endothelial cadherin at adherens junctions compared to endothelial cells in more compliant tumors. Altogether, our data indicate that matrix stiffness regulates endothelial barrier integrity through FAK activity, providing one mechanism by which extracellular matrix stiffness regulates endothelial barrier function. Additionally, our work also provides further evidence that FAK is a promising potential target for cancer therapy because FAK plays a critical role in the regulation of endothelial barrier integrity.-Wang, W., Lollis, E. M., Bordeleau, F., Reinhart-King, C. A. Matrix stiffness regulates vascular integrity through focal adhesion kinase activity.
APOA1 is the most abundant protein in HDL. It modulates interactions that affect HDL's cardioprotective functions, in part via its activation of the enzyme, LCAT. On nascent discoidal HDL, APOA1 comprises 10 α-helical repeats arranged in an anti-parallel stacked-ring structure that encapsulates a lipid bilayer. Previous chemical cross-linking studies suggested that these APOA1 rings can adopt at least two different orientations, or registries, with respect to each other; however, the functional impact of these structural changes is unknown. Here, we placed cysteine residues at locations predicted to form disulfide bonds in each orientation and then measured APOA1's ability to adopt the two registries during HDL particle formation. We found that most APOA1 oriented with the fifth helix of one molecule across from fifth helix of the other (5/5 helical registry), but a fraction adopted a 5/2 registry. Engineered HDLs that were locked in 5/5 or 5/2 registries by disulfide bonds equally promoted cholesterol efflux from macrophages, indicating functional particles. However, unlike the 5/5 registry or the WT, the 5/2 registry impaired LCAT cholesteryl esterification activity ( < 0.001), despite LCAT binding equally to all particles. Chemical cross-linking studies suggest that full LCAT activity requires a hybrid epitope composed of helices 5-7 on one APOA1 molecule and helices 3-4 on the other. Thus, APOA1 may use a reciprocating thumbwheel-like mechanism to activate HDL-remodeling proteins.
Inactivation of the retinoblastoma gene () product, pRB, is common in many human cancers. Targeting downstream effectors of pRB that are central to tumorigenesis is a promising strategy to block the growth of tumors harboring loss-of-function mutations. One such effector is retinoblastoma-binding protein 2 (RBP2, also called JARID1A or KDM5A), which encodes an H3K4 demethylase. Binding of pRB to RBP2 has been linked to the ability of pRB to promote senescence and differentiation. Importantly, genetic ablation of RBP2 is sufficient to phenocopy pRB's ability to induce these cellular changes in cell culture experiments. Moreover, germline deletion significantly impedes tumorigenesis in mice. The value of RBP2 as a therapeutic target in cancer, however, hinges on whether loss of RBP2 could block the growth of established tumors as opposed to simply delaying their onset. Here we show that conditional, systemic ablation of RBP2 in tumor-bearing mice is sufficient to slow tumor growth and significantly extend survival without causing obvious toxicity to the host. These findings show that established -null tumors require RBP2 for growth and further credential RBP2 as a therapeutic target in human cancers driven by inactivation.
Receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs) play an important role in a variety of cellular processes including growth, motility, differentiation, and metabolism. As such, dysregulation of RTK signaling leads to an assortment of human diseases, most notably, cancers. Recent large-scale genomic studies have revealed the presence of various alterations in the genes encoding RTKs such as EGFR, HER2/ErbB2, and MET, amongst many others. Abnormal RTK activation in human cancers is mediated by four principal mechanisms: gain-of-function mutations, genomic amplification, chromosomal rearrangements, and / or autocrine activation. In this manuscript, we review the processes whereby RTKs are activated under normal physiological conditions and discuss several mechanisms whereby RTKs can be aberrantly activated in human cancers. Understanding of these mechanisms has important implications for selection of anti-cancer therapies.
Methylmercury is a toxic environmental contaminant that elicits significant toxicity in humans. The central nervous system is the primary target of toxicity, and is particularly vulnerable during development. Rho-associated protein kinase 1 (ROCK-1) is a major downstream effector of the small GTPase RhoA and a direct substrate of caspase-3. The activation of ROCK-1 is necessary for membrane blebbing during apoptosis. In this work, we examined whether MeHg could affect the RhoA/ROCK-1 signaling pathway in primary cultures of mouse astrocytes. Exposure of cells with 10 μM MeHg decreased cellular viability after 24 h of incubation. This reduction in viability was preceded by a significant increase in intracellular and mitochondrial reactive oxygen species levels, as well as a reduced NAD/NADH ratio. MeHg also induced an increase in mitochondrial-dependent caspase-9 and caspase-3, while the levels of RhoA protein expression were reduced or unchanged. We further found that MeHg induced ROCK-1 cleavage/activation and promoted LIMK1 and MYPT1 phosphorylation, both of which are the best characterized ROCK-1 downstream targets. Inhibiting ROCK-1 and caspases activation attenuated the MeHg-induced cell death. Collectively, these findings are the first to show that astrocytes exposed to MeHg showed increased cleavage/activation of ROCK-1, which was independent of the small GTPase RhoA.
Copyright © 2018. Published by Elsevier Ltd.
Pro-carcinogenic bacteria have the potential to initiate and/or promote colon cancer, in part via immune mechanisms that are incompletely understood. Using Apc mice colonized with the human pathobiont enterotoxigenic Bacteroides fragilis (ETBF) as a model of microbe-induced colon tumorigenesis, we show that the Bacteroides fragilis toxin (BFT) triggers a pro-carcinogenic, multi-step inflammatory cascade requiring IL-17R, NF-κB, and Stat3 signaling in colonic epithelial cells (CECs). Although necessary, Stat3 activation in CECs is not sufficient to trigger ETBF colon tumorigenesis. Notably, IL-17-dependent NF-κB activation in CECs induces a proximal to distal mucosal gradient of C-X-C chemokines, including CXCL1, that mediates the recruitment of CXCR2-expressing polymorphonuclear immature myeloid cells with parallel onset of ETBF-mediated distal colon tumorigenesis. Thus, BFT induces a pro-carcinogenic signaling relay from the CEC to a mucosal Th17 response that results in selective NF-κB activation in distal colon CECs, which collectively triggers myeloid-cell-dependent distal colon tumorigenesis.
Copyright © 2018 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Basal nuclear factor κB (NF-κB) activation is required for hematopoietic stem cell (HSC) homeostasis in the absence of inflammation; however, the upstream mediators of basal NF-κB signaling are less well understood. Here, we describe TRAF6 as an essential regulator of HSC homeostasis through basal activation of NF-κB. Hematopoietic-specific deletion of Traf6 resulted in impaired HSC self-renewal and fitness. Gene expression, RNA splicing, and molecular analyses of Traf6-deficient hematopoietic stem/progenitor cells (HSPCs) revealed changes in adaptive immune signaling, innate immune signaling, and NF-κB signaling, indicating that signaling via TRAF6 in the absence of cytokine stimulation and/or infection is required for HSC function. In addition, we established that loss of IκB kinase beta (IKKβ)-mediated NF-κB activation is responsible for the major hematopoietic defects observed in Traf6-deficient HSPC as deletion of IKKβ similarly resulted in impaired HSC self-renewal and fitness. Taken together, TRAF6 is required for HSC homeostasis by maintaining a minimal threshold level of IKKβ/NF-κB signaling.
Copyright © 2018 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
In the immature lung, inflammation and injury disrupt the epithelial-mesenchymal interactions required for normal development. Innate immune signaling and NF-κB activation disrupt the normal expression of multiple mesenchymal genes that play a key role in airway branching and alveolar formation. To test the role of the NF-κB pathway specifically in lung mesenchyme, we utilized the mesenchymal Twist2-Cre to drive expression of a constitutively active inhibitor of NF-κB kinase subunit β (IKKβca) mutant in developing mice. Embryonic Twist2-IKKβca mice were generated in expected numbers and appeared grossly normal. Airway branching also appeared normal in Twist2-IKKβca embryos, with airway morphometry, elastin staining, and saccular branching similar to those in control littermates. While Twist2-IKKβca lungs did not contain increased levels of Il1b, we did measure an increased expression of the chemokine-encoding gene Ccl2. Twist2-IKKβca lungs had increased staining for the vascular marker platelet endothelial cell adhesion molecule 1. In addition, type I alveolar epithelial differentiation appeared to be diminished in Twist2-IKKβca lungs. The normal airway branching and lack of Il1b expression may have been due to the inability of the Twist2-IKKβca transgene to induce inflammasome activity. While Twist2-IKKβca lungs had an increased number of macrophages, inflammasome expression remained restricted to macrophages without evidence of spontaneous inflammasome activity. These results emphasize the importance of cellular niche in considering how inflammatory signaling influences fetal lung development.
Copyright © 2017 American Society for Investigative Pathology. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.