Down-regulation of Rap1GAP via promoter hypermethylation promotes melanoma cell proliferation, survival, and migration

Hong Zheng, Ling Gao, Yunfeng Feng, Liya Yuan, Haibo Zhao, Lynn A. Cornelius

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

69 Scopus citations

Abstract

Melanoma is the most serious, highly aggressive form of skin cancer with recent dramatic increases in incidence. Current therapies are relatively ineffective, highlighting the need for a better understanding of the molecular mechanisms contributing to the disease. We have previously shown that activation of Rap1 promotes melanoma cell proliferation and migration through the mitogen-activated protein kinase pathway and integrin activation. In the present study, we show that expression of Rap1GAP, a specific negative regulator of Rap1, is decreased in human melanoma tumors and cell lines. Overexpression of Rap1GAP in melanoma cells blocks Rap1 activation and extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) phosphorylation and inhibits melanoma cell proliferation and survival. In addition, overexpression of Rap1GAP also inhibits focal adhesion formation and decreases melanoma cell migration. Rap1GAP down-regulation is due to its promoter methylation, a mechanism of gene silencing in tumors. Furthermore, treatment of melanoma cells with the demethylating agent 5-aza-2′-deoxycytidine reinduces Rap1GAP expression, followed by decreased Rap1 activity, ERK phosphorylation, and cell proliferation and survival - changes that are significantly blunted in cells transfected by small interfering RNA-mediated Rap1GAP knockdown. Taken together, our findings indicate that downregulation of Rap1GAP via promoter hypermethylation promotes melanoma cell proliferation, survival, and migration.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)449-457
Number of pages9
JournalCancer research
Volume69
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 15 2009

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