Send to

Choose Destination
Mol Cancer Res. 2019 Apr;17(4):987-1001. doi: 10.1158/1541-7786.MCR-18-0391. Epub 2019 Jan 4.

Cortactin Phosphorylation by Casein Kinase 2 Regulates Actin-Related Protein 2/3 Complex Activity, Invadopodia Function, and Tumor Cell Invasion.

Author information

Program in Cancer Cell Biology, Department of Biochemistry, West Virginia University, Morgantown, West Virginia.
Department of Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery, West Virginia University, Morgantown, West Virginia.
Department of Biology, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia.
Program in Cancer Cell Biology, Department of Biochemistry, West Virginia University, Morgantown, West Virginia.


Malregulation of the actin cytoskeleton enhances tumor cell motility and invasion. The actin-binding protein cortactin facilitates branched actin network formation through activation of the actin-related protein (Arp) 2/3 complex. Increased cortactin expression due to gene amplification is observed in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) and other cancers, corresponding with elevated tumor progression and poor patient outcome. Arp2/3 complex activation is responsible for driving increased migration and extracellular matrix (ECM) degradation by governing invadopodia formation and activity. Although cortactin-mediated activation of Arp2/3 complex and invadopodia regulation has been well established, signaling pathways responsible for governing cortactin binding to Arp2/3 are unknown and potentially present a new avenue for anti-invasive therapeutic targeting. Here we identify casein kinase (CK) 2α phosphorylation of cortactin as a negative regulator of Arp2/3 binding. CK2α directly phosphorylates cortactin at a conserved threonine (T24) adjacent to the canonical Arp2/3 binding motif. Phosphorylation of cortactin T24 by CK2α impairs the ability of cortactin to bind Arp2/3 and activate actin nucleation. Decreased invadopodia activity is observed in HNSCC cells with expression of CK2α phosphorylation-null cortactin mutants, shRNA-mediated CK2α knockdown, and with the CK2α inhibitor Silmitasertib. Silmitasertib inhibits HNSCC collective invasion in tumor spheroids and orthotopic tongue tumors in mice. Collectively these data suggest that CK2α-mediated cortactin phosphorylation at T24 is critical in regulating cortactin binding to Arp2/3 complex and pro-invasive activity, identifying a potential targetable mechanism for impairing HNSCC invasion. IMPLICATIONS: This study identifies a new signaling pathway that contributes to enhancing cancer cell invasion.Visual Overview:

[Available on 2020-04-01]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for HighWire
Loading ...
Support Center