Introduction: Expression of Y-box binding protein-1 (YB-1) is associated with tumor progression and drug resistance. Phosphorylation of YB-1 at serine residue 102 (S102) in response to growth factors is required for its transcriptional activity and is thought to be regulated by cytoplasmic signaling phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K)/Akt and mitogen-activated protein kinase/extracellular signal-regulated kinase (MAPK/ERK) pathways. These pathways can be activated by growth factors and by exposure to ionizing radiation (IR). So far, however, no studies have been conducted on IR-induced YB-1 phosphorylation.
Methods: IR-induced YB-1 phosphorylation in K-RAS wild-type (K-RASwt) and K-RAS-mutated (K-RASmt) breast cancer cell lines was investigated. Using pharmacological inhibitors, small interfering RNA (siRNA) and plasmid-based overexpression approaches, we analyzed pathways involved in YB-1 phosphorylation by IR. Using γ-H2AX foci and standard colony formation assays, we investigated the function of YB-1 in repair of IR-induced DNA double-stranded breaks (DNA-DSB) and postirradiation survival was investigated.
Results: The average level of phosphorylation of YB-1 in the breast cancer cell lines SKBr3, MCF-7, HBL100 and MDA-MB-231 was significantly higher than that in normal cells. Exposure to IR and stimulation with erbB1 ligands resulted in phosphorylation of YB-1 in K-RASwt SKBr3, MCF-7 and HBL100 cells, which was shown to be K-Ras-independent. In contrast, lack of YB-1 phosphorylation after stimulation with either IR or erbB1 ligands was observed in K-RASmt MDA-MB-231 cells. Similarly to MDA-MB-231 cells, YB-1 became constitutively phosphorylated in K-RASwt cells following the overexpression of mutated K-RAS, and its phosphorylation was not further enhanced by IR. Phosphorylation of YB-1 as a result of irradiation or K-RAS mutation was dependent on erbB1 and its downstream pathways, PI3K and MAPK/ERK. In K-RASmt cells K-RAS siRNA as well as YB-1 siRNA blocked repair of DNA-DSB. Likewise, YB-1 siRNA increased radiation sensitivity.
Conclusions: IR induces YB-1 phosphorylation. YB-1 phosphorylation induced by oncogenic K-Ras or IR enhances repair of DNA-DSB and postirradiation survival via erbB1 downstream PI3K/Akt and MAPK/ERK signaling pathways.