Dermcidin exerts its oncogenic effects in breast cancer via modulation of ERBB signaling
Proteolysis-inducing factor, a cachexia-inducing tumour product, is an N-glycosylated peptide with homology to the unglycosylated neuronal survival peptide Y-P30 and a predicted product of the dermcidin gene, a pro-survival oncogene in breast cancer. We aimed to investigate whether dermcidin is pro-survival in liver cells, in which proteolysis-inducing factor induces catabolism, and to determine the role of potentially glycosylated asparagine residues in this function. Reverse cloning of proteolysis-inducing factor demonstrated approximately 100% homology with the dermcidin cDNA. This cDNA was cloned into pcDNA3.1+ and both asparagine residues removed using site-directed mutagenesis. In vitro translation demonstrated signal peptide production, but no difference in molecular weight between the products of native and mutant vectors. Immunocytochemistry of HuH7 cells transiently transfected with V5-His-tagged dermcidin confirmed targeting to the secretory pathway. Stable transfection conferred protection against oxidative stress. This was abrogated by mutation of both asparagines in combination, but not by mutation of either asparagine alone. These findings suggest that dermcidin may function as an oncogene in hepatic as well as breast cells. Glycosylation does not appear to be required, but the importance of asparagine residues suggests a role for the proteolysis-inducing factor core peptide domain.