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J Biol Chem. 2012 Jul 20;287(30):25325-34. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M112.370809. Epub 2012 Apr 25.

Novel AKT1-GLI3-VMP1 pathway mediates KRAS oncogene-induced autophagy in cancer cells.

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  • 1Schulze Center for Novel Therapeutics, Division of Oncology Research, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota, USA.


Autophagy is an evolutionarily conserved degradation process of cytoplasmic cellular constituents. It has been suggested that autophagy plays a role in tumor promotion and progression downstream oncogenic pathways; however, the molecular mechanisms underlying this phenomenon have not been elucidated. Here, we provide both in vitro and in vivo evidence of a novel signaling pathway whereby the oncogene KRAS induces the expression of VMP1, a molecule needed for the formation of the authophagosome and capable of inducing autophagy, even under nutrient-replete conditions. RNAi experiments demonstrated that KRAS requires VMP1 to induce autophagy. Analysis of the mechanisms identified GLI3, a transcription factor regulated by the Hedgehog pathway, as an effector of KRAS signaling. GLI3 regulates autophagy as well as the expression and promoter activity of VMP1 in a Hedgehog-independent manner. Chromatin immunoprecipitation assays demonstrated that GLI3 binds to the VMP1 promoter and complexes with the histone acetyltransferase p300 to regulate promoter activity. Knockdown of p300 impaired KRAS- and GLI3-induced activation of this promoter. Finally, we identified the PI3K-AKT1 pathway as the signaling pathway mediating the expression and promoter activity of VMP1 upstream of the GLI3-p300 complex. Together, these data provide evidence of a new regulatory mechanism involved in autophagy that integrates this cellular process into the molecular network of events regulating oncogene-induced autophagy.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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