FOXO family members (FOXOs: FOXO1, FOXO3, FOXO4 and FOXO6) are important transcription factors and tumor suppressors controlling cell homeostasis and cell fate. They are characterized by an extraordinary functional diversity, being involved in regulation of cell cycle, proliferation, apoptosis, DNA damage response, oxidative detoxification, cell differentiation and stem cell maintenance, cell metabolism, angiogenesis, cardiac and other organ's development, aging, and other critical cellular processes. FOXOs are tightly regulated by reversible phosphorylation, ubiquitination, acetylation and methylation. Interestingly, the known kinases phosphorylate only a small percentage of the known or predicted FOXOs phosphorylation sites, suggesting that additional kinases that phosphorylate and control FOXOs activity exist. In order to identify novel regulators of FOXO3, we have employed a proteomics screening strategy. Using HeLa cancer cell line and a Tandem Affinity Purification followed by Mass Spectrometry analysis, we identified several proteins as binding partners of FOXO3. Noteworthy, Polo Like Kinase 1 (PLK1) proto-oncogene was one of the identified FOXO3 binding partners. PLK1 plays a critical role during cell cycle (G2-M transition and all phases of mitosis) and in maintenance of genomic stability. Our experimental results presented in this manuscript demonstrate that FOXO3 and PLK1 exist in a molecular complex through most of the phases of the cell cycle, with a higher occurrence in the G2-M cell cycle phases. PLK1 induces translocation of FOXO3 from the nucleus to the cytoplasm and suppresses FOXO3 activity, measured by the decrease in the pro-apoptotic Bim protein levels and in the cell cycle inhibitor protein p27. Furthermore, PLK1 can directly phosphorylate FOXO3 in an in vitro kinase assay. These results present the discovery of PLK1 proto-oncogene as a binding partner and a negative regulator of FOXO3 tumor suppressor.
Keywords: FOXO tumor suppressors; FOXO1; FOXO3 binding partners; PI3K-Akt pathway; Polo Like Kinase 1; apoptosis; cell cycle; proto-oncogene; transcription factors.