Hyperactivated JNK is a therapeutic target in pVHL-deficient renal cell carcinoma.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

Clear cell renal cell carcinomas (RCC), the major histologic subtype of RCC accounting for more than 80% of cases, are typified by biallelic inactivation of the von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) tumor suppressor gene. Although accumulation of hypoxia-inducible factor alpha (HIF-α) is the most well-studied effect of VHL inactivation, direct inhibition of HIFα or restoration of wild-type pVHL protein expression has not proved readily feasible, given the limitations associated with pharmacologic targeting of transcription factors (i.e., HIF-α) and gene replacement therapy of tumor suppressor genes (i.e., VHL). Here, we have established that phosphorylated c-Jun, a substrate of the c-Jun-NH(2)-kinase (JNK), is selectively activated in clear cell RCC patient specimens. Using multiple isogenic cell lines, we show that HIF-α-independent JNK hyperactivation is unique to the pVHL-deficient state. Importantly, pVHL-deficient RCCs are dependent upon JNK activity for in vitro and in vivo growth. A multistep signaling pathway that links pVHL loss to JNK activation involves the formation of a CARD9/BCL10/TRAF6 complex as a proximal signal to sequentially stimulate TAK1 (MAPKKK), MKK4 (MAPKK), and JNK (MAPK). JNK stimulates c-Jun phosphorylation, activation, and dimerization with c-Fos to form a transcriptionally competent AP1 complex that drives transcription of the Twist gene and induces epithelial-mesenchymal transition. Thus, JNK represents a novel molecular target that is selectively activated in and drives the growth of pVHL-deficient clear cell RCCs. These findings can serve as the preclinical foundation for directed efforts to characterize potent pharmacologic inhibitors of the JNK pathway for clinical translation.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • An, J; Liu, H; Magyar, CE; Guo, Y; Veena, MS; Srivatsan, ES; Huang, J; Rettig, MB

Published Date

  • February 15, 2013

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 73 / 4

Start / End Page

  • 1374 - 1385

PubMed ID

  • 23393199

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1538-7445

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-12-2362


  • eng

Conference Location

  • United States