Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications, Vol.533, No.3, 437-441, 2020
Rac1 and EGFR cooperate to activate Pak in response to nutrient stress
The interplay between nutrient scarcity and signal transduction circuits is an important aspect of tumorigenesis that regulates many aspects of cancer progression. Glutamine is a critical nutrient for cancer cells, as it contributes to biosynthetic reactions that sustain cancer proliferation and growth. In tumors, because nutrient utilization can often outpace supply, glutamine levels can become limiting and oncogene-mediated metabolic rewiring triggers signaling cascades that support nutrient stress survival. Recently, we identified that in pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) cells, glutamine depletion can trigger p21-activated kinase (Pak) activation through EGFR signaling as a means to circumvent metabolic stress. Here, we elucidate that glutamine starvation, as well EGF stimulation, can enhance the presence of many different Pak phosphoforms, and that this activation only occurs in a subset of PDAC cells. Pak is a well-established effector of Rac1, and while Rac1 mutant variants can modulate the metabolic induction of Pak phosphorylation, Rac1 inhibition only partially attenuates Pak activation upon glutamine depletion. We decipher that in order to efficiently suppress metabolic activation of Pak, both EGFR and Rac1 signaling must be inhibited. These results provide a mechanistic understanding of how glutamineregulated signal transduction can control Pak activation in PDAC cells. (C) 2020 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.