EGFRvIII stimulates glioma growth and invasion through PKA-dependent serine phosphorylation of Dock180

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Abstract

Glioblastomas (GBMs), the most common and malignant brain tumors, are highly resistant to current therapies. The failure of targeted therapies against aberrantly activated oncogenic signaling, such as that of the EGFR-PI3K/Akt pathway, underscores the urgent need to understand alternative downstream pathways and to identify new molecular targets for the development of more effective treatments for gliomas. Here, we report that EGFRvIII (DEGFR/de2-7EGFR), a constitutively active EGFR mutant that is frequently co-overexpressed with EGFR in clinical GBM tumors, promotes glioma growth and invasion through protein kinase A (PKA)-dependent phosphorylation of Dock180, a bipartite guanine nucleotide exchange factor (GEF) for Rac1. We demonstrate that EGFRvIII induces serine phosphorylation of Dock180, stimulates Rac1 activation and glioma cell migration. Treatments of glioma cells using the PKA inhibitors H-89 and KT5720, overexpression of a PKA inhibitor (PKI), and in vitro PKA kinase assays show that EGFRvIII induction of serine phosphorylation of Dock180 is PKA-dependent. Significantly, PKA induces phosphorylation of Dock180 at amino acid residue S1250 that resides within its Rac1-activating DHR-2 domain. Expression of the Dock180S1250L mutant, but not wild type Dock180WT, protein in EGFRvIII-expressing glioma cells inhibited receptor-stimulated cell proliferation, survival, migration in vitro and glioma tumor growth and invasion in vivo. Together, our findings describe a novel mechanism by which EGFRvIII drives glioma tumorigenesis and invasion through PKA-dependent phosphorylation of Dock180, thereby suggesting that targeting EGFRvIII-PKA-Dock180-Rac1 signaling axis could provide a novel pathway to develop potential therapeutic strategies for malignant gliomas.

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