Progranulin is a growth factor with pro-tumorigenic activity. We recently demonstrated that in mesothelioma, progranulin regulates cell migration, invasion, adhesion, and in vivo tumor formation by modulating a complex signaling network involving multiple receptor tyrosine kinase (RTK)s. Progranulin biological activity relies on epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) and receptor-like tyrosine kinase (RYK), a co-receptor of the Wnt signaling pathway, which are both required for progranulin-induced downstream signaling. However, the molecular mechanism regulating the functional interaction among progranulin, EGFR, and RYK are not known. In this study, we demonstrated that progranulin directly interacted with RYK by specific enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) (KD = 0.67). Using immunofluorescence and proximity ligation assay, we further discovered that progranulin and RYK colocalized in mesothelioma cells in distinct vesicular compartments. Notably, progranulin-dependent downstream signaling was sensitive to endocytosis inhibitors, suggesting that it could depend on RYK or EGFR internalization. We discovered that progranulin promoted RYK ubiquitination and endocytosis preferentially through caveolin-1-enriched pathways, and modulated RYK stability. Interestingly, we also showed that in mesothelioma cells, RYK complexes with the EGFR, contributing to the regulation of RYK stability. Collectively, our results suggest a complex regulation of RYK trafficking/activity in mesothelioma cells, a process that is concurrently regulated by exogenous soluble progranulin and EGFR. NEW & NOTEWORTHY The growth factor progranulin has pro-tumorigenic activity. In mesothelioma, progranulin signaling is mediated by EGFR and RYK, a co-receptor of the Wnt signaling. However, the molecular mechanisms regulating progranulin action are not well defined. Here, we demonstrated that progranulin binds RYK and regulates its ubiquitination, internalization, and trafficking. We also uncovered a role for EGFR in modulating RYK stability. Overall, these results highlight a complex modulation of RYK activity by progranulin and EGFR in mesothelioma.
Keywords: EGFR; RYK; Wnt-5a; progranulin; tumor progression.