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Cancer Res. 2008 Sep 15;68(18):7613-20. doi: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-07-6700.

RhoC promotes metastasis via activation of the Pyk2 pathway in prostate cancer.

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  • 1Department of Medical Microbiology, Immunology, and Cell Biology, Southern Illinois University School of Medicine, Springfield, Illinois 62702, USA.


RhoC is a member of the Ras-homologous family of genes which have been implicated in tumorigenesis and tumor progression. However, the exact role of RhoC is controversial and is yet to be clarified. We have examined the effect of RhoC on prostate tumor cells and found that RhoC had no effect on cell proliferation in vitro or on tumor growth in mice. However, RhoC significantly enhanced the metastatic ability of the tumor cells in these animals, suggesting that RhoC affects only the metastasis but not the growth of prostate tumor cells. The results of our immunohistochemical analyses on tumor specimens from 63 patients with prostate cancer indicate that RhoC expression had no significant correlation with Gleason grade. However, the expression of RhoC showed significant positive correlation with both lymph node and distant metastasis, and it was inversely correlated with patient survival. We also found that RhoC significantly augmented the invasion and motility of prostate tumor cells by activating matrix metalloproteinases 2 and 9 (MMP2 and MMP9) in vitro. The results of our antibody array analysis for signal molecules revealed that RhoC significantly activated kinases including mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK), focal adhesion kinase (FAK), Akt, and Pyk2. Inhibition of Pyk2 kinase blocked the RhoC-dependent activation of FAK, MAPK, and Akt, followed by the suppression of MMP2 and MMP9. Inhibitors of both MAPK and Akt also significantly blocked the activities of these MMPs. Therefore, our results indicate that RhoC promotes tumor metastasis in prostate cancer by sequential activation of Pyk2, FAK, MAPK, and Akt followed by the up-regulation of MMP2 and MMP9, which results in the stimulation of invasiveness of tumor cells.

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