The small G-protein ADP-ribosylation factor 6 (Arf6) belongs to the Ras GTPases superfamily and is mostly known for its actin remodeling functions and involvement in the processes of plasma membrane reorganization and vesicular transport. The majority of data indicates that Arf6 contributes to cancer progression through activation of cell motility and invasion. Alternatively, we found that the expression of a wild-type or a constitutively active Arf6 does not influence tumor cell motility and invasion but instead significantly stimulates cell proliferation and activates phospholipase D (PLD). Conversely the expression of a mutant Arf6 (Arf6N48I), that is, unable to interact with PLD has no effect on proliferation but promotes motility, invasion, and matrix degradation by uPA extracellular proteinase. Studying the mechanisms of Arf6-dependent stimulation of cell proliferation, we found some signaling pathways contributing to Arf6 promitogenic activity. Namely, we showed that Arf6 in a PLD-mTORC1-dependent manner activates S6K1 kinase, a well-known regulator of mitogen-stimulated translation initiation. Furthermore, we demonstrated an Arf6-dependent phosphorylation of mTORC1 downstream targets, 4E-BP1 and ribosomal S6 protein, confirming an existence of Arf6-PLD-mTORC1-S6K1/4E-BP1 signaling pathway and also demonstrated its impact on proliferation stimulation. Next, we found that Arf6 activation potentiates Erk1/2 and p38MAP kinases phosphorylation. Surprisingly, p38 opposite to Erk1/2 significantly contributes to Arf6-dependent proliferation increase promoting S6 ribosomal protein phosphorylation at Ser235/236 residues. Therefore, we demonstrated Arf6 proliferation stimulating activity and revealed PLD-mTORC1 and p38MAP kinase as Arf6 partners mediating promitogenic activity. These results highlight a new aspect of Arf6 functioning in cancer cell biology.
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