RCC2 over-expression in tumor cells alters apoptosis and drug sensitivity by regulating Rac1 activation

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Background: Small GTP binding protein Rac1 is a component of NADPH oxidases and is essential for superoxide-induced cell death. Rac1 is activated by guanine nucleotide exchange factors (GEFs), and this activation can be blocked by regulator of chromosome condensation 2 (RCC2), which binds the switch regions of Rac1 to prevent access from GEFs. Methods: Three cancer cell lines with up- or down-regulation of RCC2 were used to evaluate cell proliferation, apoptosis, Rac1 signaling and sensitivity to a group of nine chemotherapeutic drugs. RCC2 expression in lung cancer and ovarian cancer were studied using immunochemistry stain of tumor tissue arrays. Results: Forced RCC2 expression in tumor cells blocked spontaneous- or Staurosporine (STS)-induced apoptosis. In contrast, RCC2 knock down in these cells resulted in increased apoptosis to STS treatment. The protective activity of RCC2 on apoptosis was revoked by a constitutively activated Rac1, confirming a role of RCC2 in apoptosis by regulating Rac1. In an immunohistochemistry evaluation of tissue microarray, RCC2 was over-expressed in 88.3% of primary lung cancer and 65.2% of ovarian cancer as compared to non-neoplastic lung and ovarian tissues, respectively. Because chemotherapeutic drugs can kill tumor cells by activating Rac1/JNK pathway, we suspect that tumors with RCC2 overexpression would be more resistant to these drugs. Tumor cells with forced RCC2 expression indeed had significant difference in drug sensitivity compared to parental cells using a panel of common chemotherapeutic drugs. Conclusions: RCC2 regulates apoptosis by blocking Rac1 signaling. RCC2 expression in tumor can be a useful marker for predicting chemotherapeutic response.

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Wu, N., Ren, D., Li, S., Ma, W., Hu, S., Jin, Y., & Xiao, S. (2018). RCC2 over-expression in tumor cells alters apoptosis and drug sensitivity by regulating Rac1 activation. BMC Cancer, 18(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12885-017-3908-y

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