Activated Cdc42-associated Kinase, ACK1, is a non-receptor tyrosine kinase with numerous interacting partners, including Cdc42 and EGFR. Gene amplification and overexpression of ACK1 were found in many cancer types such as those of the lung and prostate. Previously, we identified both somatic- and germ line missense mutations in the ACK1 coding sequence, by surveying 261 cancer cell lines and 15 control tissues. Here, we verified and characterized the non-synonymous mutation, ACK-S985 N, located in the ubiquitin association domain of the protein. Both overexpression and silencing experiments in MCF7 and A498 cells, respectively, demonstrated a role of the ACK1 S985 N mutation in enhancing cell proliferation, migration and anchorage-independent growth as well as the epithelial-mesenchymal transition. Further, we showed that the ACK1 S985 N mutant is unable to bind ubiquitin, unlike the wild type kinase. This contributed to ACK1 protein stability and stabilized EGFR after EGF stimulation, thereby prolonging mitogenic signaling in cancer cells. In addition, the ACK1 S985 N-EGFR interaction is enhanced, but not the ubiquitination of the receptor. Intriguingly, silencing of ACK1 in A498 cells sensitized the renal carcinoma cells to gefitinib, against which they are otherwise resistant. The work demonstrates that other than gene amplification, a single somatic mutation in ACK1 can result in extended protein stability enabling the oncoprotein to exert its oncogenic function in tumor progression. It also provides a rationale to target ACK1 in combination with other chemotherapeutic drugs, such as EGFR inhibitors, to potentiate therapeutic action against resistant tumors.
(c) 2010 Federation of European Biochemical Societies. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.