Expression and function of the PRL family of protein tyrosine phosphatase

Carmen Michelle Dumaual, Purdue University


The PRL family of enzymes constitutes a unique class of protein tyrosine phosphatase, consisting of three highly homologous members (PRL-1, PRL-2, and PRL-3). Family member PRL-3 is highly expressed in a number of tumor types and has recently gained much interest as a potential prognostic indicator of increased disease aggressiveness and poor clinical outcome for multiple human cancers. PRL-1 and PRL-2 are also known to promote a malignant phenotype in vitro, however, prior to the present study, little was known about their expression in human normal or tumor tissues. In addition, the biological function of all three PRL enzymes remains elusive and the underlying mechanisms by which they exert their effects are poorly understood. The current project was undertaken to expand our knowledge surrounding the normal cellular function of the PRL enzymes, the signaling pathways in which they operate, and the roles they play in the progression of human disease. We first characterized the tissue distribution and cell-type specific localization of PRL-1 and PRL-2 transcripts in a variety of normal and diseased human tissues using in situ hybridization. In normal, adult human tissues we found that PRL-1 and PRL-2 messages were almost ubiquitously expressed. Only highly specialized cell types, such as fibrocartilage cells, the taste buds of the tongue, and select neural cells displayed little to no expression of either transcript. In almost every other tissue and cell type examined, PRL-2 was expressed strongly while PRL-1 expression levels were variable. Each transcript was widely expressed in both proliferating and quiescent cells indicating that different tissues or cell types may display a unique physiological response to these genes. In support of this idea, we found alterations of PRL-1 and PRL-2 transcript levels in tumor samples to be highly tissue-type specific. PRL-1 expression was significantly increased in 100% of hepatocellular and gastric carcinomas, but significantly decreased in 100% of ovarian, 80% of breast, and 75% of lung tumors as compared to matched normal tissues from the same subjects. Likewise, PRL-2 expression was significantly higher in 100% of hepatocellular carcinomas, yet significantly lower in 54% of kidney carcinomas compared to matched normal specimens. PRL-1 expression was found to be associated with tumor grade in the prostate, ovary, and uterus, with patient gender in the bladder, and with patient age in the brain and skeletal muscle. These results suggest an important, but pleiotropic role for PRL-1 and PRL-2 in both normal tissue function and in the neoplastic process. These molecules may have a tumor promoting effect in some tissue types, but inhibit tumor formation or growth in others. To further elucidate the signaling pathways in which the PRLs operate, we focused on PRL-1 and used microarray and microRNA gene expression profiling to examine the global molecular changes that occur in response to stable PRL-1 overexpression in HEK293 cells. This analysis led to identification of several molecules not previously associated with PRL signaling, but whose expression was significantly altered by exogenous PRL-1 expression. In particular, Filamin A, RhoGDIα, and SPARC are attractive targets for novel mediators of PRL-1 function. We also found that PRL-1 has the capacity to indirectly influence the expression of target genes through regulation of microRNA levels and we provide evidence supporting previous observations suggesting that PRL-1 promotes cell proliferation, survival, migration, invasion, and metastasis by influencing multi-functional molecules, such as the Rho GTPases, that have essential roles in regulation of the cell cycle, cytoskeletal reorganization, and transcription factor function. The combined results of these studies have expanded our current understanding of the expression and function of the PRL family of enzymes as well as of the role these important signaling molecules play in the progression of human disease




Randall, Purdue University.

Subject Area

Biology|Molecular biology|Oncology

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