Background: Cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) directs the synthesis of prostaglandins including PGE-2 linking inflammation with mitogenic signaling. COX-2 is also an anticancer target, however, treatment strategies have been limited by unreliable expression assays and by inconsistent tumor responses to COX-2 inhibition.
Methods: We analyzed the TCGA and Director's Challenge lung cancer datasets (n = 188) and also generated an LKB1-null lung cancer gene signature (n = 53) to search the Broad Institute/Connectivity-MAP (C-MAP) dataset. We performed ChIP analyses, real-time polymerase chain reaction, immunoblotting, and drug testing of tumor cell lines (n = 8) and primary lung adenocarcinoma surgical resections (n = 13).
Results: We show that COX-2 is a target of the cAMP/CREB coactivator CRTC1 signaling pathway. In addition, we detected a correlation between LKB1 status, CRTC1 activation, and presence of glycosylated, but not inactive hypoglycosylated COX-2 in primary lung adenocarcinoma. A search of the C-MAP drug database discovered that all high-ranking drugs positively associated with the LKB1-null signature are known CRTC1 activators, including forskolin and six different PGE-2 analogues. Somatic LKB1 mutations are present in 20.0% of lung adenocarcinomas, and we observed growth inhibition with COX-2 inhibitors in LKB1-null lung cancer cells with activated CRTC1 as compared with LKB1-wildtype cells (NS-398, P = .002 and Niflumic acid, P = .006; two-tailed t test).
Conclusion: CRTC1 activation is a key event that drives the LKB1-null mRNA signature in lung cancer. We also identified a positive feedback LKB1/CRTC1 signaling loop for COX-2/PGE2 regulation. These data suggest a role for LKB1 status and glycosylated COX-2 as specific biomarkers that provide a framework for selecting patients for COX-2 inhibition studies.
© The Author 2014. Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved. For Permissions, please e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.