Functional interactions between Choline kinase α, epidermal growth factor receptor and c-Src in breast cancer cell proliferation

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Epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) family members and c-Src are co-overexpressed in many cancers. The synergistic effect of EGFR and c-Src has been shown in the tumorigenesis of breast and other cancers. Reported mechanisms of synergy include transcriptional regulation by STAT5b and the regulation of cellular ATP production by mitochondrial protein COX II. Here, we report a new mechanism of EGFR-c-Src synergy through choline kinase α (CHKA). The first enzyme of the phosphatidyl choline production pathway, CHKA, is overexpressed in many cancers, and the product of the enzyme, phosphocholine, is also increased in tumor cells. In this report, we find that CHKA forms a complex with EGFR in a c-Src-dependent manner. Endogenous CHKA and EGFR co-immunoprecipitated from a variety of breast cancer cell lines and immortalized mammary epithelial cells. CHKA interacted with the EGFR kinase domain upon c-Src co-overexpression and was phosphorylated in a c-Src-dependent manner on Y197 and Y333. Overexpression of EGFR and c-Src increased total cellular activity and protein levels of CHKA. Mutation of CHKA Y197 and Y333 reduced complex formation, EGFR-dependent activation of CHKA enzyme activity and epidermal growth factor (EGF)-dependent DNA synthesis. Furthermore, small interfering RNA-mediated knockdown of CHKA in MCF-7 and MCF-10A cells reduced EGF-dependent cell proliferation. Together, these results strongly implicate a new c-Src-dependent link between CHKA and EGFR, which contributes to the regulation of cell proliferation and tumorigenesis.

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