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J Clin Invest. 2011 Dec;121(12):4670-84. doi: 10.1172/JCI58559. Epub 2011 Nov 14.

Activation of Rac1 by Src-dependent phosphorylation of Dock180(Y1811) mediates PDGFRα-stimulated glioma tumorigenesis in mice and humans.

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Cancer Institute, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15213, USA.


Two hallmarks of glioblastoma multiforme, the most common malignant brain cancer in humans, are aggressive growth and the ability of single glioma cells to disperse throughout the brain. These characteristics render tumors resistant to current therapies and account for the poor prognosis of patients. Although it is known that oncogenic signaling caused by overexpression of genes such as PDGFRA is responsible for robust glioma growth and cell infiltration, the mechanisms underlying glioblastoma malignancy remain largely elusive. Here, we report that PDGFRα signaling in glioblastomas leads to Src-dependent phosphorylation of the guanine nucleotide exchange factor Dock180 at tyrosine 1811 (Dock180(Y1811)) that results in activation of the GTPase Rac1 and subsequent cell growth and invasion. In human glioma cells, knockdown of Dock180 and reversion with an RNAi-resistant Dock180(Y1811F) abrogated, whereas an RNAi-resistant Dock180(WT) rescued, PDGFRα-promoted glioma growth, survival, and invasion. Phosphorylation of Dock180(Y1811) enhanced its association with CrkII and p130(Cas), causing activation of Rac1 and consequent cell motility. Dock180 also associated with PDGFRα to promote cell migration. Finally, phosphorylated Dock180(Y1811) was detected in clinical samples of gliomas and various types of human cancers, and coexpression of phosphorylated Dock180(Y1811), phosphorylated Src(Y418), and PDGFRα was predictive of extremely poor prognosis of patients with gliomas. Taken together, our findings provide insight into PDGFRα-stimulated gliomagenesis and suggest that phosphorylated Dock180(Y1811) contributes to activation of Rac1 in human cancers with PDGFRA amplification.

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