Self-reinforcing loop of amphiregulin and Y-box binding protein-1 contributes to poor outcomes in ovarian cancer

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Abstract

The Y-box binding protein-1 (YB-1) transcription factor is associated with unfavorable clinical outcomes. However, the mechanisms underlying this association remain to be fully elucidated. We demonstrate that YB-1 phosphorylation, indicative of YB-1 activation, is a powerful marker of outcomes for ovarian cancer patients. In ovarian cancer, YB-1 phosphorylation is induced by activation of the lysophosphatidic acid (LPA) receptor (LPAR) via SRC-dependent transactivation of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) that is coupled to MAPK/p90 ribosomal S6 kinase (p90RSK), but not phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K)/AKT signaling. Activation of the LPAR/SRC/EGFR/MAPK/p90RSK/YB-1 axis leads to production of the EGFR ligand amphiregulin (AREG). AREG induces ongoing YB-1 phosphorylation as well as YB-1-dependent AREG expression, thus constituting an AREG/YB-1 self-reinforcing loop. Disruption of transactivation of the EGFR and the downstream self-reinforcing loop decreases invasiveness of ovarian cancer cells in vitro and limits ovarian cancer growth in xenograft models. These findings established the regulation and significance of YB-1 phosphorylation, therefore further exploration of this signaling axis as a therapeutic avenue in ovarian cancer is warranted.

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