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High Expression of Rab-like 3 (Rabl3) is Associated with Poor Survival of Patients with Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer via Repression of MAPK8/9/10-Mediated Autophagy

Weihua Zhang, Jian Sun, Junming Luo

Department of Oncology, Medical School of Nanchang University, Nanchang, Jiangxi, China (mainland)

Med Sci Monit 2016; 22:1582-1588

DOI: 10.12659/MSM.898632

Available online:

Published: 2016-05-10

BACKGROUND: Rab-like 3 (Rabl3) is a member of the Rab subfamily of small GTPases which are involved in controlling proliferation and vesicular trafficking. Recent studies suggest that Rab proteins might play a critical role in regulating cancer cell survival, but the underlying mechanisms remain largely unknown.
MATERIAL AND METHODS: We performed a bioinformatics analysis to examine the correlation between the expression level of Rabl3 and survival of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients in three independent cohorts containing 484 patients. The function of Rabl3 was examined in NSCLC cell line A549 in vitro. Following Rabl3 knockdown, cells were stained with propidium iodine (PI) and Annexin V, followed by flow cytometry analysis (FACS) for cell death and autophagy induction. The activity of the MAPK signaling pathway was assessed by Western blotting of different MAPK phosphorylations, and modulated with different chemical inhibitors.
RESULTS: High expression of Rabl3 was significantly correlated with poor survival in all three independent NSCLC cohorts. In line with this result, Rabl3 was frequently overexpressed in lung cancer cell lines as compared with normal lung fibroblast cell lines. Knockdown of Rabl3 in lung cancer cells significantly enhanced cell death accompanied with autophagy induction, as evidenced by an increased level of autophagy marker LC3-II. Interestingly, Rabl3 knockdown was associated with enhanced activation of MAPK8/9/10 but not MAPK11/12/13/14. Treatment of MAPK8/9/10-specific inhibitor SP600125, but not MAPK11/12/13/14-specific inhibitor SB203580, largely abolished Rabl3 knockdown-induced LC3-I/LC3-II conversion and autophagic cell death.
CONCLUSIONS: Together, these results suggest that high expression of Rabl3 might inhibit cell death in NSCLCs via repression of MAPK8/9/10-mediated autophagy.

Keywords: Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung - metabolism, Autophagy - physiology, Apoptosis - physiology, Cell Line, Tumor, Cell Movement - physiology, Gene Knockdown Techniques, Lung Neoplasms - metabolism, Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase Kinases - metabolism, Phosphorylation, Signal Transduction, Survival Rate, rab GTP-Binding Proteins - metabolism