BACKGROUND: Tumor cell migration and metastasis require dynamic rearrangements of the actin cytoskeleton. Interestingly, the F-actin cross-linking and stabilizing protein L-plastin, originally described as a leukocyte specific protein, is aberrantly expressed in several non-hematopoietic malignant tumors. Therefore, it has been discussed as a tumor marker. However, systematic in vivo analyses of the functional relevance of L-plastin for tumor cell metastasis were so far lacking. METHODS: We investigated the relevance of L-plastin expression and phosphorylation by ectopical expression of L-plastin in human melanoma cells (MV3) and knock-down of endogenous L-plastin in prostate cancer (PC3M). The growth and metastatic potential of tumor cells expressing no L-plastin, phosphorylatable or non-phosphorylatable L-plastin was analyzed in a preclinical mouse model after subcutaneous and intracardial injection of the tumor cells. RESULTS: Knock-down of endogenous L-plastin in human prostate carcinoma cells led to reduced tumor cell growth and metastasis. Vice versa, and in line with these findings, ectopic expression of L-plastin in L-plastin negative melanoma cells significantly increased the number of metastases. Strikingly, the metastasis promoting effect of L-plastin was not observed if a non-phosphorylatable L-plastin mutant was expressed. CONCLUSIONS: Our data provide the first in vivo evidence that expression of L-plastin promotes tumor metastasis and, importantly, that this effect depends on an additionally required phosphorylation of L-plastin. In conclusion, these findings imply that for determining the importance of tumor-associated proteins like L-plastin a characterization of posttranslational modifications is indispensable.
Type of Publication:
Journal article published