Cancer metastasis is the main cause of mortality associated with non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC), accounting for up to 70% of deaths among patients. The mechanisms underlying distal metastasis remain largely unknown. Golgi phosphoprotein 3 (GOLPH3) correlates negatively with overall survival in multiple tumors. In this study, we evaluated the function of GOLPH3 in NSCLC distal metastasis. GOLPH3 was expressed at high levels in samples from patients with NSCLC and was positively associated with clinicopathologic characteristics including clinical stage (P < 0.001), T (P = 0.001), N (P = 0.007), and M (P = 0.001) classification. Functionally, Transwell and wound-healing assays suggested that GOLPH3 overexpression enhances NSCLC cell migration and invasion abilities. Tumor-sphere formation and flow cytometry assays demonstrated that GOLPH3 overexpression enhances a stem cell-like phenotype of NSCLC cells. Metastasis models established by tail vein and intracardiac injection confirmed the pro-metastatic function of GOLPH3 in vivo. A subcutaneous tumor formation model confirmed that GOLPH3 overexpression increased the tumorigenicity of NSCLC cells. Mechanistically, gene set enrichment analysis revealed a positive association of GOLPH3 mRNA expression with WNT-activated gene signatures. Luciferase-reporter and nuclear extract assays showed that GOLPH3 overexpression enhances metastasis and tumorigenicity through activation of the WNT/β-catenin pathway. Immunoprecipitation-mass spectrometry and gene ontology analysis demonstrated that GOLPH3 interacts with cytoskeleton-associated protein 4 (CKAP4) in exosome-mediated distal metastasis. We found that GOLPH3 decreased the amount of plasma membrane-localized CKAP4 and increased the amount of exosome-localized CKAP4 to promote the formation of CKAP4-containing exosomes. Furthermore, we demonstrated that CKAP4 binds exosomal WNT3A to enhance its secretion. Therefore, the GOLPH3/CKAP4 axis plays a crucial role in promoting exosomal-WNT3A secretion to enhance and maintain the stem-like phenotype and metastasis in NSCLC, thus indicating the therapeutic potential of GOLPH3 in patients with NSCLC metastasis.
© 2021. The Author(s).