Insulin-like growth factors (IGFs) have been shown to induce proliferation of many types of cells. Insulin receptor substrates (IRSs) are major targets of IGF-I receptor (IGF-IR) tyrosine kinase activated by IGFs, and are known to play important roles in the activation of downstream signaling pathways, such as the Erk1/2 pathway. Dysregulation of IGF signaling represents a central tumor promoting principle in human carcinogenesis. Prostate carcinoma is highly dependent on the IGF/IGF-IR/IRS axis. Here we identified the deubiquitinase, ubiquitin specific peptidase 9X (USP9X) as a novel binding partner of IRS-2. In a human prostate carcinoma cell line, small interfering RNA (siRNA)-mediated knockdown of USP9X reduced IGF-IR as well as IRS-2 protein levels and increased their ubiquitination. Knockdown of USP9X suppressed basal activation of the Erk1/2 pathway, which was significantly restored by exogenous expression of IRS-2 but not by IGF-IR, suggesting that the stabilization of IRS-2 by USP9X is critical for basal Erk1/2 activation. Finally, we measured anchorage-independent cell growth, a characteristic cancer feature, by soft-agar colony formation assay. Knockdown of USP9X significantly reduced anchorage-independent cell growth of prostate carcinoma cell line. Taken all together, our findings indicate that USP9X is required for the promotion of prostate cancer growth by maintaining the activation of the Erk1/2 pathway through IRS-2 stabilization.
Keywords: IGF-I; IRS-2; USP9X; prostate cancer; ubiquitin.