E3 ubiquitin ligase PARK2, an inhibitor of melanoma cell growth, is repressed by the oncogenic ERK1/2-ELK1 transcriptional axis

Valentina Montagnani, Luisa Maresca, Alessandro Apollo, Sara Pepe, Ryan M. Carr, Martin E. Fernandez-Zapico, Barbara Stecca

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

Malignant melanoma, the most aggressive form of skin cancer, is characterized by high prevalence of BRAF/NRAS mutations and hyperactivation of extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1 and 2 (ERK1/2), mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPK), leading to uncontrolled melanoma growth. Efficacy of current targeted therapies against mutant BRAF or MEK1/2 have been hindered by existence of innate or development of acquired resistance. Therefore, a better understanding of the mechanisms controlled by MAPK pathway driving melanogenesis will help develop new treatment approaches targeting this oncogenic cascade. Here, we identify E3 ubiquitin ligase PARK2 as a direct target of ELK1, a known transcriptional effector of MAPK signaling in melanoma cells. We show that pharmacological inhibition of BRAF-V600E or ERK1/2 in melanoma cells increases PARK2 expression. PARK2 overexpression reduces melanoma cell growth in vitro and in vivo and induces apoptosis. Conversely, its genetic silencing increases melanoma cell proliferation and reduces cell death. Further, we demonstrate that ELK1 is required by the BRAF-ERK1/2 pathway to repress PARK2 expression and promoter activity in melanoma cells. Clinically, PARK2 is highly expressed in WT BRAF and NRAS melanomas, but it is expressed at low levels in melanomas carrying BRAF/NRAS mutations. Overall, our data provide new insights into the tumor suppressive role of PARK2 in malignant melanoma and uncover a novel mechanism for the negative regulation of PARK2 via the ERK1/2-ELK1 axis. These findings suggest that reactivation of PARK2 may be a promising therapeutic approach to counteract melanoma growth.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)16058-16071
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Volume295
Issue number47
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 20 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology

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