National Key Research and Develop Program of China
National Natural Science Foundation of China
Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities
ARTICLE ABSTRACTDue to its intricate heterogeneity and limited treatment, hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) has been considered a major cause of cancer-related mortality worldwide. Increasing evidence indicates that G-protein-coupled estrogen receptor 1 (GPER1) can promote estrogen-dependent hepatocellular proliferation by activating AKT signaling. The mTOR complex 2 (mTORC2), whose integrity and activity are modulated by its subunit Sin1, controls the activation of AKT by phosphorylation at position S473. In this study, we investigate the modulation of Sin1 and how estrogen signaling may influence the mTORC2–AKT cascade in HCC cells and a DEN-induced mouse model. We have found that estradiol-dependent Sin1 expression is transcriptionally modulated by GPER1 as well as ERα. GPER1 is able to regulate Sin1 stability via nuclear translocation, therefore increasing Sin1–mTORC2–AKT activation. Moreover, Sin1 interacts with ERα and further enhances its transcriptional activity. Sin1 is highly expressed in acute liver injury and in cases of HCC harboring high expression of GPER1 and constitutive activation of mTORC2–AKT signaling. GPER1 inhibition using the antagonist G-15 reverses DEN-induced acute liver injury by suppressing Sin1 expression and mTORC2–AKT activation. Notably, SIN1 expression varies between male and female mice in the context of both liver injury and liver cancer. In addition, high SIN1 expression is predictive of good prognosis in both male and female patients with HCC who are free from hepatitis virus infection and who report low alcohol consumption. Hence, here we demonstrate that Sin1 can be regulated by GPER1 both through nongenomic and indirect genomic signaling.
This study suggests that Sin1 may be a novel HCC biomarker which is gender-dependent and sensitive to particular risk factor.