Dual-faced SH3BGRL: oncogenic in mice, tumor suppressive in humans

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Despite abundant data supporting c-Src as a metastasis-promoting oncogene, activating mutations of c-Src are rare. This suggests that trans-interacting proteins may have a critical role in regulating c-Src activation. Here, we first report the discovery of Src homology 3 (SH3) domain-binding glutamic acid-rich-like protein (SH3BGRL), a novel c-Src activator in mice. Ectopic expression of murine SH3BGRL (mSH3BGRL) strongly promoted both tumor cell invasion and lung metastasis. Molecularly, mSH3BGRL specifically bound the inactive form of c-Src phosphorylated at Tyr527, promoting Tyr416 phosphorylation of c-Src and subsequent FAKmediated activation of ERK and AKT signaling pathways. Targeting endogenous c-Src alone was sufficient to abolish mSH3BGRLinduced cancer metastasis in vivo. Unexpectedly, human SH3BGRL (hSH3BGRL) in turn suppressed tumorigenesis and metastasis in nature. We attempted site-specific reversion of hSH3BGRL amino-acid sequence to mSH3BGRL and found V108A substitution sufficient to restore SH3BGRL function as a c-Src activator and metastasis promoter. Notably, the somatic mutation R76C of hSH3BGRL can similarly act as hSH3BGRL-V108A and mSH3BGRL in tumorigenesis and metastasis. Our results uncover an evolutionarily controversial role of SH3BGRL in driving tumor metastasis through c-Src activation, and suggests that hSH3BGRL mutation status could be relevant to cancer diagnosis and therapy.

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