Morgana acts as a proto-oncogene through inhibition of a ROCK–PTEN pathway

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Morgana/CHP-1 is a ubiquitously expressed protein able to inhibit ROCK II kinase activity. We have previously demonstrated that morgana haploinsufficiency leads to multiple centrosomes, genomic instability, and higher susceptibility to tumour development. While a large fraction of human cancers has shown morgana down-regulation, a small subset of tumours was shown to express high morgana levels. Here we demonstrate that high morgana expression in different breast cancer subtypes correlates with high tumour grade, mitosis number, and lymph node positivity. Moreover, morgana overexpression induces transformation in NIH-3T3 cells and strongly protects them from various apoptotic stimuli. From a mechanistic point of view, we demonstrate that morgana causes PTEN destabilization, by inhibiting ROCK activity, hence triggering the PI3K/AKT survival pathway. In turn, morgana down-regulation in breast cancer cells that express high morgana levels increases PTEN expression and leads to sensitization of cells to chemotherapy. Copyright © 2014 Pathological Society of Great Britain and Ireland. Published by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd

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