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The extracellular-regulated protein kinase 5 (ERK5) enhances metastatic burden in triple-negative breast cancer through focal adhesion protein kinase (FAK)-mediated regulation of cell adhesionAbstract: There is overwhelming clinical evidence that the extracellular-regulated protein kinase 5 (ERK5) is significantly dysregulated in human breast cancer. However, there is no definite understanding of the requirement of ERK5 in tumor growth and metastasis due to very limited characterization of the pathway in disease models. In this study, we report that a high level of ERK5 is a predictive marker of metastatic breast cancer. Mechanistically, our in vitro data revealed that ERK5 was critical for maintaining the invasive capability of triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) cells through focal adhesion protein kinase (FAK) activation. Specifically, we found that phosphorylation of FAK at Tyr397 was controlled by a kinase-independent function of ERK5. Accordingly, silencing ERK5 in mammary tumor grafts impaired FAK phosphorylation at Tyr397 and suppressed TNBC cell metastasis to the lung without preventing tumor growth. Collectively, these results establish a functional relationship between ERK5 and FAK signaling in promoting malignancy. Thus, targeting the oncogenic ERK5-FAK axis represents a promising therapeutic strategy for breast cancer exhibiting aggressive clinical behavior.
Ultraviolet light-induced collagen degradation inhibits melanoma invasionAbstract: Ultraviolet radiation (UVR) damages the dermis and fibroblasts; and increases melanoma incidence. Fibroblasts and their matrix contribute to cancer, so we studied how UVR modifies dermal fibroblast function, the extracellular matrix (ECM) and melanoma invasion. We confirmed UVR-damaged fibroblasts persistently upregulate collagen-cleaving matrix metalloprotein-1 (MMP1) expression, reducing local collagen (COL1A1), and COL1A1 degradation by MMP1 decreased melanoma invasion. Conversely, inhibiting ECM degradation and MMP1 expression restored melanoma invasion. Primary cutaneous melanomas of aged humans show more cancer cells invade as single cells at the invasive front of melanomas expressing and depositing more collagen, and collagen and single melanoma cell invasion are robust predictors of poor melanoma-specific survival. Thus, primary melanomas arising over collagen-degraded skin are less invasive, and reduced invasion improves survival. However, melanoma-associated fibroblasts can restore invasion by increasing collagen synthesis. Finally, high COL1A1 gene expression is a biomarker of poor outcome across a range of primary cancers.