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Cancer Res. 2011 Aug 15;71(16):5579-87. doi: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-11-0458. Epub 2011 Jun 23.

Protein arginine methyltransferase 5 accelerates tumor growth by arginine methylation of the tumor suppressor programmed cell death 4.

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  • 1Department of Oncological Sciences, Huntsman Cancer Institute; and Department of Pathology, University of Utah School of Medicine, Salt Lake City, Utah 84112, USA.


Programmed cell death 4 (PDCD4) has been described as a tumor suppressor, with high expression correlating with better outcomes in a number of cancer types. Yet a substantial number of cancer patients with high PDCD4 in tumors have poor survival, suggesting that oncogenic pathways may inhibit or change PDCD4 function. Here, we explore the significance of PDCD4 in breast cancer and identify protein arginine methyltransferase 5 (PRMT5) as a cofactor that radically alters PDCD4 function. Specifically, we find that coexpression of PDCD4 and PRMT5 in an orthotopic model of breast cancer causes accelerated tumor growth and that this growth phenotype is dependent on both the catalytic activity of PRMT5 and a site of methylation within the N-terminal region of PDCD4. In agreement with the xenograft model, elevated PDCD4 expression was found to correlate with worse outcome within the cohort of breast cancer patients whose tumors contain higher levels of PRMT5. These results reveal a new cofactor for PDCD4 that alters its tumor suppressor functions and point to the utility of PDCD4/PRMT5 status as both a prognostic biomarker and a potential target for chemotherapy.

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