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J Biol Chem. 2011 Jun 24;286(25):22291-9. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M111.236596. Epub 2011 May 9.

Phosphorylation of caspase-7 by p21-activated protein kinase (PAK) 2 inhibits chemotherapeutic drug-induced apoptosis of breast cancer cell lines.

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The Hormel Institute, University of Minnesota, Austin, Minnesota 55912, USA.


p21-activated kinase (PAK) 2, a member of the PAK family of serine/threonine protein kinases, plays an important role in physiological processes such as motility, survival, mitosis, and apoptosis. However, the role of PAK2 in resistance to chemotherapy is unclear. Here we report that PAK2 is highly expressed in human breast cancer cell lines and human breast invasive carcinoma tissue compared with a human non-tumorigenic mammary epithelial cell line and adjacent normal breast tissue, respectively. Interestingly, we found that PAK2 can bind with caspase-7 and phosphorylate caspase-7 at the Ser-30, Thr-173, and Ser-239 sites. Functionally, the phosphorylation of caspase-7 decreases its activity, thereby inhibiting cellular apoptosis. Our data indicate that highly expressed PAK2 mediates chemotherapeutic resistance in human breast invasive ductal carcinoma by negatively regulating caspase-7 activity.

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