Molecular, Cell and Cancer Biology Department
First Thesis Advisor
Leslie M. Shaw, PhD
Signal Transducing Adaptor Proteins, Apoptosis Regulatory Proteins, Tumor Suppressor Proteins, Autophagy, Breast Neoplasms, Neoplastic Cell Transformation
Dissertations, UMMS; Adaptor Proteins, Signal Transducing; Apoptosis Regulatory Proteins; Tumor Suppressor Proteins; Autophagy; Breast Neoplasms; Cell Transformation, Neoplastic
Beclin 1 is a haplo-insufficient tumor suppressor that is decreased in many human tumors. The function of Beclin 1 in cancer has been attributed primarily to its role in the degradative process of autophagy. However, the role of autophagy itself in tumorigenesis is context-dependent and can be both preventive and promoting. Due to its dual function in cancer a better understanding of this process is necessary to develop potential novel cancer therapies. To gain insight into the role of autophagy in breast carcinoma, I analyzed the autophagydependency of different subtypes of breast cancer. My results implicate that triple-negative breast carcinoma cells are more dependent on autophagy than luminal breast carcinoma cells. Chemical inhibition of autophagy decreased the tumorigenicity of triple-negative breast carcinoma cells with regard to proliferation and anchorage-independent growth. However, RNAi-mediated suppression of two autophagy genes, ATG5 and Beclin 1, revealed different outcomes. While suppression of ATG5 decreased glycolysis, Beclin 1 depletion did not affect the glycolytic rates. These results suggest autophagy-independent pro-tumorigenic effects of loss of Beclin 1 in cancer.
Beclin 1 is a core component of the Vps34/Class III PI3K (PI3KC3) and Vps15/p150 complex that regulates multiple membrane trafficking events. I describe a novel mechanism of action for Beclin 1 in breast cancer involving its control of growth factor receptor signaling. I identify a specific stage of early endosome maturation that is regulated by Beclin 1, the transition of APPL1- containing phosphatidyIinositol 3-phosphate-negative (PI3P-) endosomes to PI3P+ endosomes. Beclin 1 regulates PI3P production in response to growth factor stimulation to control the residency time of growth factor receptors in the PI3P-/APPL+ signaling competent compartment. As a result, suppression of BECN1 sustains growth factor stimulated AKT and ERK activation resulting in increased breast carcinoma cell invasion. In human breast tumors, Beclin 1 expression is inversely correlated with AKT and ERK phosphorylation. Taken together my data identify a novel role for Beclin 1 in regulating growth factor signaling and reveal a mechanism by which loss of Beclin 1 expression would enhance breast cancer progression independent of its impact on autophagy.
Rohatgi, R. Autophagy-Independent Role for Beclin 1 in the Regulation of Growth Factor Receptor Signaling: A Dissertation. (2015). University of Massachusetts Medical School. GSBS Dissertations and Theses. Paper 873. DOI: 10.13028/M26S32. https://escholarship.umassmed.edu/gsbs_diss/873
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