Overexpression of GAB2 in ovarian cancer cells promotes tumor growth and angiogenesis by upregulating chemokine expression

We previously found that the scaffold adapter GRB2-associated binding protein 2 (GAB2) is amplified and overexpressed in a subset of primary high-grade serous ovarian cancers and cell lines. Ovarian cancer cells overexpressing GAB2 are dependent on GAB2 for activation of the phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K) pathway and are sensitive to PI3K inhibition. In this study, we show an important role of GAB2 overexpression in promoting tumor angiogenesis by upregulating expression of multiple chemokines. Specifically, we found that suppression of GAB2 by inducible small hairpin RNA in ovarian cancer cells inhibited tumor cell proliferation, angiogenesis and peritoneal tumor growth in immunodeficient mice. Overexpression of GAB2 upregulated the secretion of several chemokines from ovarian cancer cells, including CXCL1, CXCL2 and CXCL8. The secreted chemokines not only signal through endothelial CXCR2 receptor in a paracrine manner to promote endothelial tube formation, but also act as autocrine growth factors for GAB2-induced transformation of fallopian tube secretory epithelial cells and clonogenic growth of ovarian cancer cells overexpressing GAB2. Pharmacological inhibition of inhibitor of nuclear factor kappa-B kinase subunit β (IKKβ), but not PI3K, mechanistic target of rapamycin (mTOR) or mitogen-activated protein kinase (MEK), could effectively suppress GAB2-induced chemokine expression. Inhibition of IKKβ augmented the efficacy of PI3K/mTOR inhibition in suppressing clonogenic growth of ovarian cancer cells with GAB2 overexpression. Taken together, these findings suggest that overexpression of GAB2 in ovarian cancer cells promotes tumor growth and angiogenesis by upregulating expression of CXCL1, CXCL2 and CXCL8 that is IKKβ-dependent. Co-targeting IKKβ and PI3K pathways downstream of GAB2 might be a promising therapeutic strategy for ovarian cancer that overexpresses GAB2.

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