MUC4 activates HER2 signalling and enhances the motility of human ovarian cancer cells.

Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha, NE 68198-5870, USA.
British Journal of Cancer (Impact Factor: 5.08). 09/2008; 99(3):520-6. DOI: 10.1038/sj.bjc.6604517
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT The mucin MUC4 is a high molecular weight transmembrane glycoprotein. It consists of a mucin-type subunit (MUC4alpha) and a transmembrane growth factor-like subunit (MUC4beta). The mucin MUC4 is overexpressed in many epithelial malignancies including ovarian cancer, suggesting a possible role in the pathogenesis of these cancers. In this study, we investigated the functional role of MUC4 in the human ovarian cancer cell line SKOV3. The mucin MUC4 was ectopically expressed by stable transfection, and its expression was examined by western blot and confocal microscopy analyses. The in vitro studies demonstrated an enhanced motility of MUC4-expressing SKOV3 cells compared with the vector-transfected cells. The mucin MUC4 expression was associated with apparent changes in actin organisation, leading to the formation of microspike, lammelopodia and filopodia-like cellular projections. An enhanced protein expression and activation of HER2, a receptor tyrosine kinase, was also seen, although no significant change was observed in HER-2 transcript levels in the MUC4-transfected SKOV3 cells. Reciprocal co-immunoprecipitation revealed an interaction of MUC4 with HER2. Further, the MUC4-overexpressing SKOV3 cells exhibited an increase in the phosphorylation of focal adhesion kinase (FAK), Akt and ERK, downstream effectors of HER2. Taken together, our findings demonstrate that MUC4 plays a role in ovarian cancer cell motility, in part, by altering actin arrangement and potentiating HER2 downstream signalling in these cells.

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