Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women. Glycoprotein non-metastatic melanoma protein B (GPNMB), a type I transmembrane protein that is highly expressed in many cancers, including breast cancer, has been shown to be a prognostic factor. We previously reported that GPNMB overexpression confers tumorigenic potential, as evidenced by invasive tumor growth in vivo, sphere formation, and cellular migration and invasion to non-tumorigenic mammary epithelial cells. In this study, we focused on the serine (S) residue in the intracellular domain of GPNMB (S530 in human isoform b and S546 in mouse), which is predicted to be a phosphorylation site. To investigate the roles of this serine residue, we made an antibody specific for S530-phosphorylated human GPNMB and a point mutant in which S530 is replaced by an alanine (A) residue, GPNMB(SA). Established GPNMB(SA) overexpressing cells showed a significant reduction in sphere formation in vitro and tumor growth in vivo as a result of decreased stemness-related gene expression compared to that in GPNMB(WT)-expressing cells. In addition, GPNMB(SA) impaired GPNMB-mediated cellular migration. Furthermore, we found that tyrosine kinase receptor signaling triggered by epidermal growth factor or fibroblast growth factor 2 induces the serine phosphorylation of GPNMB through activation of downstream oncoproteins RAS and RAF.
Keywords: GPNMB; breast cancer; cancer stem cell; sphere formation; tumorigenesis.
© 2021 The Authors. Cancer Science published by John Wiley & Sons Australia, Ltd on behalf of Japanese Cancer Association.