The p90 ribosomal S6 kinase (RSK) is a family of MAPK-activated serine/threonine kinases (RSK1-4) whose expression and/or activity are deregulated in several cancers, including breast cancer. Up-regulation of RSKs promotes cellular processes that drive tumorigenesis in Triple Negative Breast Cancer (TNBC) cells. Although RSKs regulate protein synthesis in certain cell types, the role of RSK-mediated translational control in oncogenic progression has yet to be evaluated. We demonstrate that proliferation and migration of TNBC MDA-MB-231 cells, unlike ER/PR-positive MCF7 cells, rely on RSK activity. We show that RSKs regulate the activities of the translation initiation factor eIF4B and the translational repressor PDCD4 in TNBC cells with up-regulated MAPK pathway, but not in breast cancer cells with hyperactivated PI3K/Akt/mTORC1 pathway. These results identify PDCD4 as a novel RSK substrate. We demonstrate that RSK-mediated phosphorylation of PDCD4 at S76 promotes PDCD4 degradation. Low PDCD4 levels reduce PDCD4 inhibitory effect on the translation initiation factor eIF4A, which increases translation of "eIF4A sensitive" mRNAs encoding factors involved in cell cycle progression, survival, and migration. Consequently, low levels of PDCD4 favor proliferation and migration of MDA-MB-231 cells. These results support the therapeutic use of RSK inhibitors for treatment of TNBC with deregulated MAPK/RSK pathway.
Cuesta, R., & Holz, M. K. (2016). RSK-mediated down-regulation of PDCD4 is required for proliferation, survival, and migration in a model of triple-negative breast cancer. Oncotarget, 7(19). https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.8375