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Open Access Research

The scaffold protein MEK Partner 1 is required for the survival of estrogen receptor positive breast cancer cells

Mihaela Marina12*, Limin Wang3 and Susan E Conrad3

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Physiology, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI, 48824, USA

2 Current address: Department of Radiation Oncology, Winship Cancer Institute, Atlanta, GA, 30322, USA

3 Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI, 48864, USA

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Cell Communication and Signaling 2012, 10:18  doi:10.1186/1478-811X-10-18

Published: 9 July 2012

Abstract

MEK Partner 1 (MP1 or MAPKSP1) is a scaffold protein that has been reported to function in multiple signaling pathways, including the ERK, PAK and mTORC pathways. Several of these pathways influence the biology of breast cancer, but MP1’s functional significance in breast cancer cells has not been investigated. In this report, we demonstrate a requirement for MP1 expression in estrogen receptor (ER) positive breast cancer cells. MP1 is widely expressed in both ER-positive and negative breast cancer cell lines, and in non-tumorigenic mammary epithelial cell lines. However, inhibition of its expression using siRNA duplexes resulted in detachment and apoptosis of several ER-positive breast cancer cell lines, but not ER-negative breast cancer cells or non-tumorigenic mammary epithelial cells. Inhibition of MP1 expression in ER-positive MCF-7 cells did not affect ERK activity, but resulted in reduced Akt1 activity and reduced ER expression and activity. Inhibition of ER expression did not result in cell death, suggesting that decreased ER expression is not the cause of cell death. In contrast, pharmacological inhibition of PI3K signaling did induce cell death in MCF-7 cells, and expression of a constitutively active form of Akt1 partially rescued the cell death observed when the MP1 gene was silenced in these cells. Together, these results suggest that MP1 is required for pro-survival signaling from the PI3K/Akt pathway in ER-positive breast cancer cells.

Keywords:
MEK Partner 1; Estrogen Receptor; Breast Cancer; Cell Survival