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MICAL2 promotes breast cancer cell migration by maintaining epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) stability and EGFR/P38 signalling activation

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Acta Physiologica

Published online on


Aim MICAL2, a cytoskeleton dynamics regulator, is identified associated with survival and metastasis of several types of cancers recently. This study was designed to investigate the role of MICAL2 in breast cancer cell migration as well as its underlying mechanisms. Methods The relationship between MICAL2 and EGF/EGFR signalling was analysed by gene overexpression and knock‐down techniques. Cell migration was measured by wound‐healing assays. Activation of EGF/EGFR signalling pathways were evaluated by immunofluorescence, qPCR, Western blotting and zymography techniques. Rac1 activity was assessed by pull‐down assay. Correlation of MICAL2 and EGFR in breast cancer specimens was examined by immunohistochemical analysis. Results Ectopic expression of MICAL2 in MCF‐7 cells augmented EGFR protein level, accompanied by the promotion of cell migration. Silencing MICAL2 in MDA‐MB‐231 cells destabilized EGFR and inhibited cell migration. In mechanism, the maintaining effect of MICAL2 on EGFR protein content was due to a delay in EGFR degradation. Expression of MICAL2 was also shown positively correlated with the activation of P38/HSP27 and P38/MMP9 signallings, which are the main downstream signalling cascades of EGF/EGFR involved in cell migration. Further analysis indicated that Rac1 activation contributed to the maintaining effect of MICAL2 on EGFR stability. In addition, analysis of breast cancer specimens revealed a positive correlation between MICAL2 and EGFR levels and an association between MICAL2 expression and worse prognosis. Conclusion MICAL2 is a major regulator of breast cancer cell migration, maintaining EGFR stability and subsequent EGFR/P38 signalling activation through inhibiting EGFR degradation in a Rac1‐dependent manner.