Kinase suppressor of RAS1 (KSR1) is a scaffold protein implicated in RAS-mediated RAF activation. However, the molecular function of KSR in papillary thyroid cancer (PTC) is unknown. Thus, this study aimed to characterize the role of KSR1 in patients with PTC. qRT-PCR and immunohistochemistry (IHC) revealed inter-tumor heterogeneities in the expression of KSR1 in PTC tissues. Interestingly, BRAFV600E-positive PTC showed higher KSR1 mRNA expression than BRAFV600E-negative PTC (P<0.001). Gene Set Enrichment Analysis (GSEA) using public repositories showed that high KSR1 expression coordinately upregulated Notch signaling (nominal P=0.019, false discovery rate (FDR) q-value=0.165); this finding was supported by GeneNetwork analysis, indicating that KSR1 expression is positively correlated with NOTCH1 expression (ρ=0.677, P=6.15×10(-9)). siRNA against KSR1 (siKSR1) significantly decreased ERK phosphorylation induced by BRAFV600E, resulting in reduced expression of NOTCH1 and HES1, targets of Notch signaling. GSEA revealed that high KSR1 expression was also associated with downregulation of genes related to oxidative phosphorylation (OxPhos). Consistent with this, electron microscopy showed that PTCs with high KSR1 expression exhibited structural defects of the mitochondrial cristae. Furthermore, siKSR1-transfected BCPAP and 8505C cells generated fewer colonies in colony-forming assays. In addition, GSEA showed that high expression of KSR2 and connector enhancer of KSR1 (CNKSR1) also coordinately upregulated Notch signaling (KSR2: nominal P=0.0097, FDR q-value=0.154 and CNKSR1: nominal P<0.0001, FDR q-value=0.00554), and high CNKSR2 was associated with downregulation of the OxPhos gene set (nominal P<0.0001, FDR q-value <0.0001). In conclusion, KSR1 is coordinately regulated with Notch signaling and OxPhos in PTC, because its scaffold function might be required to sustain the proliferative signaling and metabolic remodeling associated with this type of cancer.
Keywords: connector enhancer of KSR (CNKSR); kinase suppressor of RAS (KSR); notch signaling; oxidative phosphorylation; thyroid cancer.
© 2015 Society for Endocrinology.