Faculté des sciences

Akt/PKB-mediated phosphorylation of Twist1 promotes tumor metastasis via mediating cross-talk between PI3K/Akt and TGF-β signaling axes

Xue, Gongda ; Restuccia, David F. ; Lan, Qiang ; Hynx, Debby ; Dirnhofer, Stephan ; Hess, Daniel ; Rüegg, Curzio ; Hemmings, Brian A.

In: Cancer Discovery, 2012, vol. 2, no. 3, p. 248-259

Metastatic breast tumor cells display an epithelial–mesenchymal transition (EMT) that increases cell motility, invasion, and dissemination. Although the transcription factor Twist1 has been shown to contribute to EMT and cancer metastasis, the signaling pathways regulating Twist1 activity are poorly understood. Here, we show that Twist1 is ubiquitously phosphorylated in 90% of 1,532 invasive... Plus

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    Summary
    Metastatic breast tumor cells display an epithelial–mesenchymal transition (EMT) that increases cell motility, invasion, and dissemination. Although the transcription factor Twist1 has been shown to contribute to EMT and cancer metastasis, the signaling pathways regulating Twist1 activity are poorly understood. Here, we show that Twist1 is ubiquitously phosphorylated in 90% of 1,532 invasive human breast tumors. Akt/protein kinase B (PKB)–mediated Twist1 phosphorylation promotes EMT and breast cancer metastasis by modulating its transcriptional target TGF-β2, leading to enhanced TGF-β receptor signaling, which in turn maintains hyperactive phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K)/Akt signaling. Preventing phosphorylation of Twist1, as well as depletion of TGF-β2, significantly impaired the metastatic potential of cancer cells in vivo, indicating a key role of phosphorylated Twist1 (phospho-Twist1) in mediating cross-talk between the PI3K/Akt and TGF-β/Smad signaling axes that supports metastatic tumor development. Our results describe a novel signaling event linking PI3K/Akt hyperactivation in tumor cells to direct regulation of Twist1 activation and tumor metastasis. Significance: We identified the first phospho-Twist1 transcriptional target TGF-β2, which mediates cross-talk between PI3K/Akt and TGF-β signaling and promotes tumor metastasis. Our results thus illustrate a direct role of PI3K/Akt signaling in metastatic cancer development and suggest that Twist1 phosphorylation could be a potential therapeutic target in clinical cancer treatment.