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Cancer Sci. 2010 Mar;101(3):658-65. doi: 10.1111/j.1349-7006.2009.01427.x. Epub 2009 Nov 7.

Myristoylated alanine-rich C kinase substrate phosphorylation promotes cholangiocarcinoma cell migration and metastasis via the protein kinase C-dependent pathway.

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Department of Biochemistry, Faculty of Medicine, Khon Kaen University, Khon Kaen, Thailand.


Myristoylated alanine-rich C kinase substrate (MARCKS), a substrate of protein kinase C (PKC) has been suggested to be implicated in cell adhesion, secretion, and motility through the regulation of the actin cytoskeletal structure. The quantitative real-time-polymerase chain reaction analysis revealed that MARCKS is significantly overexpressed in Opisthorchis viverrini-associated cholangiocarcinoma (CCA) (P = 0.001) in a hamster model, which correlated with the results of mRNA in situ hybridization. An immunohistochemical analysis of 60 CCA patients revealed a significant increase of MARCKS expression. Moreover, the log-rank analysis indicated that CCA patients with a high MARCKS expression have significantly shorter survival times than those with a low MARCKS expression (P = 0.02). This study investigated whether MARCKS overexpression is associated with CCA metastasis. Using a confocal microscopic analysis of CCA cell lines that had been stimulated with the PKC activator, 12-0-tetradecanoyl phorbol-13-acetate (TPA), MARCKS was found to be translocated from the plasma membrane to the perinuclear area. In addition, phosphorylated MARCKS (pMARCKS) became highly concentrated in the perinuclear area. Moreover, an adhesion assay demonstrated that the exogenous overexpression of MARCKS remarkably promoted cell attachment. Interestingly, after TPA stimulation, the CCA cell line-depleted MARCKS showed a decrease in migration and invasion activity. It can be concluded that in non-stimulation, MARCKS promotes cell attachment to the extracellular matrix. After TPA stimulation, PKC phosphorylates MARCKS leading to cell migration or invasion. Taken together, the results of this study reveal a prominent role for MARCKS as one of the key players in the migration of CCA cells and suggest that cycling between MARCKS and pMARCKS can regulate the metastasis of biliary cancer cells.

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