The neurotrophin-3 (NT-3) receptor tropomyosin receptor kinase C (TrkC/NTRK3) has been described as a dependence receptor and, as such, triggers apoptosis in the absence of its ligand NT-3. This proapoptotic activity has been proposed to confer a tumor suppressor activity to this classic tyrosine kinase receptor (RTK). By investigating interacting partners that might facilitate TrkC-induced cell death, we have identified the basic helix-loop-helix (bHLH) transcription factor Hey1 and importin-α3 (karyopherin alpha 4 [KPNA4]) as direct interactors of TrkC intracellular domain, and we show that Hey1 is required for TrkC-induced apoptosis. We propose here that the cleaved proapoptotic portion of TrkC intracellular domain (called TrkC killer-fragment [TrkC-KF]) is translocated to the nucleus by importins and interacts there with Hey1. We also demonstrate that Hey1 and TrkC-KF transcriptionally silence mouse double minute 2 homolog (MDM2), thus contributing to p53 stabilization. p53 transcriptionally regulates the expression of TrkC-KF cytoplasmic and mitochondrial interactors cofactor of breast cancer 1 (COBRA1) and B cell lymphoma 2–associated X (BAX), which will subsequently trigger the intrinsic pathway of apoptosis. Of interest, TrkC was proposed to constrain tumor progression in neuroblastoma (NB), and we demonstrate in an avian model that TrkC tumor suppressor activity requires Hey1 and p53.
Ménard, M., Costechareyre, C., Ichim, G., Blachier, J., Neves, D., Jarrosson-Wuilleme, L., … Tauszig-Delamasure, S. (2018). Hey1- and p53-dependent TrkC proapoptotic activity controls neuroblastoma growth. PLoS Biology, 16(5). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pbio.2002912