C4ST-1 / CHST1-controlled chondroitin sulfation interferes with oncogenic HRAS signaling in Costello syndrome
ABSTRACT Costello syndrome is a pediatric genetic disorder linked to oncogenic germline mutations in the HRAS gene. The disease is characterized by multiple developmental abnormalities, as well as predisposition to malignancies. Our recent observation that heart tissue from patients with Costello syndrome showed a loss of the glycosaminoglycan chondroitin-4-sulfate (C4S) inspired our present study aimed to explore a functional involvement of the chondroitin sulfate (CS) biosynthesis gene Carbohydrate sulfotransferase 11/Chondroitin-4-sulfotransferase-1 (CHST11/C4ST-1), as well as an impaired chondroitin sulfation balance, as a downstream mediator of oncogenic HRAS in Costello syndrome. Here we demonstrate a loss of C4S, as well as a reduction in C4ST-1 mRNA and protein expression, in primary fibroblasts from Costello syndrome patients. We go on to show that expression of oncogenic HRAS in normal fibroblasts can repress C4ST-1 expression, whereas interference with oncogenic HRAS signaling in Costello syndrome fibroblasts elevated C4ST-1 expression, thus identifying C4ST-1 as a negatively regulated target gene of HRAS signaling. Importantly, we show that forced expression of C4ST-1 in Costello fibroblasts could rescue the proliferation and elastogenesis defects associated with oncogenic HRAS signaling in these cells. Our results indicate reduced C4ST-1 expression and chondroitin sulfation imbalance mediating the effects of oncogenic HRAS signaling in the pathogenesis of Costello syndrome. Thus, our work identifies C4ST-1-dependent chondroitin sulfation as a downstream vulnerability in oncogenic RAS signaling, which might be pharmacologically exploited in future treatments of not only Costello syndrome and other RASopathies, but also human cancers associated with activating RAS mutations.