Overexpression of Rac GTPase Activating Protein 1 Contributes to Proliferation of Cancer Cells by Reducing Hippo Signaling to Promote Cytokinesis.Gastroenterology. 2018 10; 155(4):1233-1249.e22.G
BACKGROUND & AIMS
Agents designed to block or alter cytokinesis can kill or stop proliferation of cancer cells. We aimed to identify cytokinesis-related proteins that are overexpressed in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) cells and might be targeted to slow liver tumor growth.
Using the Oncomine database, we compared the gene expression patterns in 16 cancer microarray datasets and assessed gene enrichment sets using gene ontology. We performed immunohistochemical analysis of an HCC tissue microarray and identified changes in protein levels that are associated with patient survival times. Candidate genes were overexpressed or knocked down with small hairpin RNAs in SMMC7721, MHCC97H, or HCCLM3 cell lines; we analyzed their proliferation, viability, and clone-formation ability and their growth as subcutaneous or orthotopic xenograft tumors in mice. We performed microarray analyses to identify alterations in signaling pathways and immunoblot and immunofluorescence assays to detect and localize proteins in tissues. Yeast 2-hybrid screens and mass spectrometry combined with co-immunoprecipitation experiments were used to identify binding proteins. Protein interactions were validated with co-immunoprecipitation and proximity ligation assays. Chromatin immunoprecipitation, promoter luciferase activity, and quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction analyses were used to identify factors that regulate transcription of specific genes.
The genes that were most frequently overexpressed in different types of cancer cells were involved in cell division processes. We identified 3 cytokinesis-regulatory proteins among the 10 genes most frequently overexpressed by all cancer cell types. Rac GTPase activating protein 1 (RACGAP1) was the cytokinesis-regulatory protein that was most highly overexpressed in multiple cancers. Increased expression of RACGAP1 in tumor tissues was associated with shorter survival times of patients with cancer. Knockdown of RACGAP1 in HCC cells induced cytokinesis failure and cell apoptosis. In microarray analyses, we found knockdown of RACGAP1 in SMMC7721 cells to reduce expression of genes regulated by yes-associated protein (YAP) and WW domain containing transcription regulator 1 (WWTR1 or TAZ). RACGAP1 reduced activation of the Hippo pathway in HCC cells by increasing activity of RhoA and polymerization of filamentous actin. Knockdown of YAP reduced phosphorylation of RACGAP1 and redistribution at the anaphase central spindle. We found transcription of the translocated promoter region, nuclear basket protein (TPR) to be regulated by YAP and coordinately expressed with RACGAP1 to promote proliferation of HCC cells. TPR redistributed upon nuclear envelope breakdown and formed complexes with RACGAP1 during mitosis. Knockdown of TPR in HCC cells reduced phosphorylation of RACGAP1 by aurora kinase B and impaired their redistribution at the central spindle during cytokinesis. STAT3 activated transcription of RACGAP in HCC cells.
In an analysis of gene expression patterns of multiple tumor types, we found RACGAP1 to be frequently overexpressed, which is associated with shorter survival times of patients. RACGAP1 promotes proliferation of HCC cells by reducing activation of the Hippo and YAP pathways and promoting cytokinesis in coordination with TPR.