Endothelin A receptor drives invadopodia function and cell motility through the β-arrestin/PDZ-RhoGEF pathway in ovarian carcinoma

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The endothelin-1 (ET-1)/ET A receptor (ETAR) signalling pathway is a well-established driver of epithelial ovarian cancer (EOC) progression. One key process promoted by ET-1 is tumor cell invasion, which requires the scaffolding functions of β-arrestin-1 (β-arr1) downstream of the receptor; however, the potential role of ET-1 in inducing invadopodia, which are crucial for cellular invasion and tumor metastasis, is completely unknown. We describe here that ET-1/ETAR, through β-arr1, activates RhoA and RhoC GTPase and downstream ROCK (Rho-associated coiled coil-forming kinase) kinase activity, promoting actin-based dynamic remodelling and enhanced cell invasion. This is accomplished by the direct interaction of β-arr1 with PDZ-RhoGEF (postsynaptic density protein 95/disc-large/zonula occludens-RhoGEF). Interestingly, ETAR-mediated invasive properties are related to the regulation of invadopodia, as evaluated by colocalization of actin with cortactin, as well as with TKS5 and MT1-MMP (membrane type 1-matrix metalloproteinase) with areas of matrix degradation, and activation of cofilin pathway, which is crucial for regulating invadopodia activity. Depletion of PDZ-RhoGEF, or β-arr1, or RhoC, as well as the treatment with the dual ET-1 receptor antagonist macitentan, significantly impairs invadopodia function, MMP activity and invasion, demonstrating that β-arr1/PDZ-RhoGEF interaction mediates ETAR-driven ROCK-LIMK-cofilin pathway through the control of RhoC activity. In vivo, macitentan is able to inhibit metastatic dissemination and cofilin phosphorylation. Collectively, our data unveil a noncanonical activation of the RhoC/ROCK pathway through the β-arr1/PDZ-RhoGEF complex as a regulator of ETAR-induced motility and metastasis, establishing ET-1 axis as a novel regulator of invadopodia protrusions through the RhoC/ROCK/LIMK/cofilin pathway during the initial steps of EOC invasion.

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