Activated-PAK4 predicts worse prognosis in breast cancer and promotes tumorigenesis through activation of PI3K/AKT signaling
Ovarian cancer is a lethal gynecological malignancy, and to improve survival, it is important to identify novel prognostic and therapeutic targets. In this study, we present a role for p21-activated kinase 4 (Pak4) in ovarian cancer progression. We show a significant association between increased expression of Pak4 and its activated form, phosphorylated (p)-Pak4 Ser(474), with metastasis of ovarian cancers, shorter overall and disease-free survival, advanced stage and high-grade cancers, serous/clear cell histological subtypes, and reduced chemosensitivity. Pak4 overexpression was also observed in ovarian cancer cell lines. Pak4 and p-Pak4 expression were detected both in the nucleus and cytoplasm of ovarian cancer cells, in vitro as well as in vivo. Stable knockdown of Pak4 in ovarian cancer cell lines led to reduced cell migration, invasion, and proliferation, along with reduced c-Src, ERK1/2, and epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) activation and decreased matrix metalloproteinase 2 (MMP2) expression. Conversely, Pak4 overexpression promoted ovarian cancer cell migration and invasion in a c-Src, MEK-1, MMP2, and kinase-dependent manner, and induced cell proliferation through the Pak4/c-Src/EGFR pathway that controls cyclin D1 and CDC25A expression. Stable knockdown of Pak4 also impeded tumor growth and dissemination in nude mice. This report reveals the association between Pak4 and important clinicopathologic parameters, suggesting Pak4 to be a significant prognostic marker and potential therapeutic molecular target in ovarian cancer. The implied possible cross-talk between Pak4 and EGFR suggests the potential of dual targeting of EGFR and Pak4 as a unique therapeutic approach for cancer therapy.