Gallbladder cancer (GBC) is a rare malignancy, associated with poor disease prognosis with a 5-year survival of only 20%. This has been attributed to late presentation of the disease, lack of early diagnostic markers and limited efficacy of therapeutic interventions. Elucidation of molecular events in GBC can contribute to better management of the disease by aiding in the identification of therapeutic targets. To identify aberrantly activated signaling events in GBC, tandem mass tag-based quantitative phosphoproteomic analysis of five GBC cell lines was carried out. Proline-rich Akt substrate 40 kDa (PRAS40) was one of the proteins found to be hyperphosphorylated in all the invasive GBC cell lines. Tissue microarray-based immunohistochemical labeling of phospho-PRAS40 (T246) revealed moderate to strong staining in 77% of the primary gallbladder adenocarcinoma cases. Regulation of PRAS40 activity by inhibiting its upstream kinase PIM1 resulted in a significant decrease in cell proliferation, colony forming and invasive ability of GBC cells. Our results support the role of PRAS40 phosphorylation in GBC cell survival and aggressiveness. This study also elucidates phospho-PRAS40 as a clinical marker in GBC and the role of PIM1 as a therapeutic target in GBC.
Keywords: Cell survival; Gastrointestinal cancer; Phosphoproteomics; SGI-1776; Targeted therapy; mTOR signaling.