MAPK-interacting protein kinases 1 and 2 (MNK1 and MNK2) function downstream of p38 and ERK MAPK, but there are large gaps in our knowledge of how MNKs are regulated and function. As proteins activated in the HER2/Ras/Raf/ERK pathway, the MNKs are of potential interest in HER2-overexpressing cancers. We utilized a panel of breast cell lines (HCC1419, AU565, SKBR3, MCF7, and MCF10A), three of which overexpress HER2, to characterize the amounts and activation status of MNKs and other pathway enzymes (ERKs and RSKs) in these cells. We generated a phosphospecific antibody to Thr(P)-214 in the T-loop of MNKs and found that phosphorylations of both Thr-209 and Thr-214 in human MNK1 are required for activation. Increased phosphorylation and activity of the MNKs correlate with HER2 overexpression, and inhibition of the MNKs reduces colony formation in soft agar. Our work identifies the MNKs as potential therapeutic targets for breast cancer treatments.
"We also found that Mnk2a can bind and phosphorylate both p38a and p38b, but not p38g or p38d, suggesting that Mnk2a has specificity toward these two substrates (Figures 4A, 4B, and S6F–S6H). We further confirmed that the kinase activity of Mnk2a is required for activation of p38a and its target genes because both the Mnk2aKD or application of the Mnk1/Mnk2 kinase inhibitor CGP 57380 (Knauf et al., 2001; Chrestensen et al., 2007) inhibited these activities (Figures S6B and 6). Taken together, these results indicate that Mnk2 kinase activity is required for the activation of p38-MAPK and its downstream targets. "
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The kinase Mnk2 is a substrate of the MAPK pathway and phosphorylates the translation initiation factor eIF4E. In humans, MKNK2, the gene encoding for Mnk2, is alternatively spliced yielding two splicing isoforms with differing last exons: Mnk2a, which contains a MAPK-binding domain, and Mnk2b, which lacks it. We found that the Mnk2a isoform is downregulated in breast, lung, and colon tumors and is tumor suppressive. Mnk2a directly interacts with, phosphorylates, activates, and translocates p38α-MAPK into the nucleus, leading to activation of its target genes, increasing cell death and suppression of Ras-induced transformation. Alternatively, Mnk2b is pro-oncogenic and does not activate p38-MAPK, while still enhancing eIF4E phosphorylation. We further show that Mnk2a colocalization with p38α-MAPK in the nucleus is both required and sufficient for its tumor-suppressive activity. Thus, Mnk2a downregulation by alternative splicing is a tumor suppressor mechanism that is lost in some breast, lung, and colon tumors.
"Despite increased understanding of Mnk structure and function, little progress has been made with the discovery of pharmacological Mnk inhibitors. So far three Mnk inhibitors have been reported: CGP052088 , CGP57380 [76-79], and Cercosporamide  (Figure 4). These compounds have mainly served as chemical biological tools for Mnk target validation. "
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Deregulation of protein synthesis is a common event in human cancer and a key player in translational control is eIF4E. Elevated expression levels of eIF4E promote cancer development and progression. Recent findings suggest that eIF4E activity is a key determinant of the PI3K/Akt/mTOR and Ras/Raf/MEK/ERK mediated tumorigenic activity and targeting eIF4E should have a major impact on these pathways in human cancer. The function of eIF4E is modulated through phosphorylation of a conserved serine (Ser209) by Mnk1 and Mnk2 downstream of ERK. While the phosphorylation event is necessary for oncogenic transformation, it seems to be dispensable for normal development. Hence, pharmacologic Mnk inhibitors may provide non-toxic and effective anti-cancer strategy. Strong circumstantial evidence indicates that Mnk inhibition presents attractive therapeutic potential, but the lack of selective Mnk inhibitors has so far confounded pharmacological target validation and clinical development.
"We used untreated MCF-7 human breast cancer cells as positive controls for ER-α and ER-β protein and SKBR3 human breast cancer cells (Chrestensen et al. 2007) as positive controls for HER2 (human epidermal growth factor receptor 2) protein. "
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Breast cancer has recently been linked to cadmium exposure. Although not uniformly supported, it is hypothesized that cadmium acts as a metalloestrogenic carcinogen via the estrogen receptor (ER). Thus, we studied the effects of chronic exposure to cadmium on the normal human breast epithelial cell line MCF-10A, which is ER-negative but can convert to ER-positive during malignant transformation.
Cells were continuously exposed to low-level cadmium (2.5 muM) and checked in vitro and by xenograft study for signs of malignant transformation. Transformant cells were molecularly characterized by protein and transcript analysis of key genes in breast cancer.
Over 40 weeks of cadmium exposure, cells showed increasing secretion of matrix metalloproteinase-9, loss of contact inhibition, increased colony formation, and increasing invasion, all typical for cancer cells. Inoculation of cadmium-treated cells into mice produced invasive, metastatic anaplastic carcinoma with myoepithelial components. These cadmium-transformed breast epithelial (CTBE) cells displayed characteristics of basal-like breast carcinoma, including ER-alpha negativity and HER2 (human epidermal growth factor receptor 2) negativity, reduced expression of BRCA1 (breast cancer susceptibility gene 1), and increased CK5 (cytokeratin 5) and p63 expression. CK5 and p63, both breast stem cell markers, were prominently overexpressed in CTBE cell mounds, indicative of persistent proliferation. CTBE cells showed global DNA hypomethylation and c-myc and k-ras overexpression, typical in aggressive breast cancers. CTBE cell xenograft tumors were also ER-alpha negative.
Cadmium malignantly transforms normal human breast epithelial cells-through a mechanism not requiring ER-alpha-into a basal-like cancer phenotype. Direct cadmium induction of a malignant phenotype in human breast epithelial cells strongly fortifies a potential role in breast cancer.
Environmental Health Perspectives 12/2009; 117(12):1847-52. DOI:10.1289/ehp.0900999 · 7.98 Impact Factor
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