Fibrolamellar carcinoma (FLC) is a rare liver cancer. FLCs uniquely produce DNAJ-PKAc, a chimeric enzyme consisting of a chaperonin-binding domain fused to the Cα subunit of protein kinase A. Biochemical analyses of clinical samples reveal that a unique property of this fusion enzyme is the ability to recruit heat shock protein 70 (Hsp70). This cellular chaperonin is frequently up-regulated in cancers. Gene-editing of mouse hepatocytes generated disease-relevant AML12DNAJ-PKAc cell lines. Further analyses indicate that the proto-oncogene A-kinase anchoring protein-Lbc is up-regulated in FLC and functions to cluster DNAJ-PKAc/Hsp70 sub-complexes with a RAF-MEK-ERK kinase module. Drug screening reveals Hsp70 and MEK inhibitor combinations that selectively block proliferation of AML12DNAJ-PKAc cells. Phosphoproteomic profiling demonstrates that DNAJ-PKAc biases the signaling landscape toward ERK activation and engages downstream kinase cascades. Thus, the oncogenic action of DNAJ-PKAc involves an acquired scaffolding function that permits recruitment of Hsp70 and mobilization of local ERK signaling.
Keywords: MAP kinase; Protein kinase A; biochemistry; cancer biology; chemical biology; combination therapy; fibrolamellar carcinoma; human; intratumoral heterogeneity; local signaling; mouse.
© 2019, Turnham et al.