Merlin, a "magic" linker between extracellular cues and intracellular signaling pathways that regulate cell motility, proliferation, and survival.
ABSTRACT Genetic alterations of neurofibromatosis type 2 (NF2) gene lead to the development of schwannomas, meningiomas, and ependymomas. Mutations of NF2 gene were also found in thyroid cancer, mesothelioma, and melanoma, suggesting that it functions as a tumor suppressor in a wide spectrum of cells. The product of NF2 gene is merlin (moesin-ezrin-radixin-like protein), a member of the Band 4.1 superfamily proteins. Merlin shares significant sequence homology with the ERM (Ezrin-Radixin-Moesin) family proteins and serves as a linker between transmembrane proteins and the actin-cytoskeleton. Merlin is a multifunctional protein and involved in integrating and regulating the extracellular cues and intracellular signaling pathways that control cell fate, shape, proliferation, survival, and motility. Recent studies showed that merlin regulates the cell-cell and cell-matrix adhesions and functions of the cell surface adhesion/extracellular matrix receptors including CD44 and that merlin and CD44 antagonize each other's function and work upstream of the mammalian Hippo signaling pathway. Furthermore, merlin plays important roles in stabilizing the contact inhibition of proliferation and in regulating activities of several receptor tyrosine kinases. Accumulating data also suggested an emerging role of merlin as a negative regulator of growth and progression of several non-NF2 associated cancer types. Together, these recent advances have improved our basic understanding about merlin function, its regulation, and the major signaling pathways regulated by merlin and provided the foundation for future translation of these findings into the clinic for patients bearing the cancers in which merlin function and/or its downstream signaling pathways are impaired or altered.
Article: Merlin, the neurofibromatosis type 2 gene product, and beta1 integrin associate in isolated and differentiating Schwann cells.[show abstract] [hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: Neurofibromatosis type 2, a disease characterized by the formation of multiple nervous system tumors, especially schwannomas, is caused by mutation in the gene-encoding merlin/schwannomin. The molecular mechanism by which merlin functions as a tumor suppressor is unknown, but is hypothesized to involve plasma membrane and cytoskeleton interaction. Several merlin antibodies were used to study merlin expression, localization, and protein association in primary cultures of rat sensory neurons, Schwann cells (SCs), and SCs grown with neurons (SC/N cultures) before and during differentiation into myelinating cells. Western blot analysis revealed that neurons predominantly expressed a 68-kD protein, but SCs expressed two additional 88- and 120-kD related proteins. Extensive immunological characterization demonstrated that the 88-kD protein shared three domains with the 68-kD merlin protein. Western blot analysis of soluble and insoluble culture fractions demonstrated that the majority of merlin and related proteins were soluble in isolated SCs and undifferentiated SC/N cultures, but became insoluble in myelinating SC/N cultures. Double immunofluorescence staining suggested that merlin translocated from the perinuclear cytoplasm in undifferentiated SCs to the subplasmalemma in differentiating SCs and partially colocalized with beta1 integrin. Finally, beta1 integrin antibody coimmunoprecipitated 68-kD merlin from isolated SC and undifferentiated SC/N cultures, but predominantly the 88-kD protein from differentiating SC/N cultures. Together, these results provide evidence that merlin interacts with beta1 integrin and that merlin localization changes from a cytosolic to cytoskeletal compartment during SC differentiation.Journal of Neurobiology 01/1999; 37(4):487-501. · 3.05 Impact Factor
Article: Structure of the ERM protein moesin reveals the FERM domain fold masked by an extended actin binding tail domain.[show abstract] [hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: The ezrin-radixin-moesin (ERM) protein family link actin filaments of cell surface structures to the plasma membrane, using a C-terminal F-actin binding segment and an N-terminal FERM domain, a common membrane binding module. ERM proteins are regulated by an intramolecular association of the FERM and C-terminal tail domains that masks their binding sites. The crystal structure of a dormant moesin FERM/tail complex reveals that the FERM domain has three compact lobes including an integrated PTB/PH/ EVH1 fold, with the C-terminal segment bound as an extended peptide masking a large surface of the FERM domain. This extended binding mode suggests a novel mechanism for how different signals could produce varying levels of activation. Sequence conservation suggests a similar regulation of the tumor suppressor merlin.Cell 05/2000; 101(3):259-70. · 32.40 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: The LATS1 gene is a mammalian member of the novel lats tumor suppressor family. Both lats mosaic flies and LATS1 deficient mice spontaneously develop tumors. Our previous studies have shown that inactivation of Drosophila lats leads to up-regulation of cyclin A in the fly, and the human LATS1 protein associates with CDC2 in early mitosis in HeLa cells, suggesting that the lats gene family may negatively regulate cell proliferation by modulating CDC2/Cyclin A activity. We demonstrate here that transduction of the human breast cancer cell MCF-7 with recombinant LATS1 adenovirus (Ad-LATS1), but not with EGFP adenovirus (Ad-EGFP), inhibits in vitro cell proliferation. Ectopic expression of LATS1 in MCF-7 cells specifically down-regulates Cyclin A and Cyclin B protein levels and dramatically reduces CDC2 kinase activity, leading to a G2/M blockade. Furthermore, Ad-LATS1 suppresses anchorage-independent growth of MCF-7 cells in soft agar and tumor formation in athymic nude mice. We also demonstrate that ectopic expression of LATS1 in MCF-7 cells and human lung cancer cell H460 up-regulates the level of BAX proteins and induces apoptosis. Finally, we show that LATS1 kinase activity is required for its ability to inhibit cell growth and induce apoptosis. The results indicate that the LATS1 tumor suppressor may play an important role in the control of human tumor development and that LATS1 suppresses tumorigenesis by negatively regulating cell proliferation and modulating cell survival.Oncogene 03/2002; 21(8):1233-41. · 6.37 Impact Factor