Dual-specificity phosphatase 5 regulates nuclear ERK activity and suppresses skin cancer by inhibiting mutant Harvey-Ras (HRasQ61L)-driven SerpinB2 expression

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Ectopic expression of dual-specificity phosphatase 5 (DUSP5), an inducible mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinase phosphatase, specifically inactivates and anchors extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK)1/2 in the nucleus. However, the role of endogenous DUSP5 in regulating the outcome of Ras/ERK kinase signaling under normal and pathological conditions is unknown. Here we report that mice lacking DUSP5 show a greatly increased sensitivity to mutant Harvey-Ras (HRas(Q61L))-driven papilloma formation in the 7,12-Dimethylbenz[a]anthracene/12-O-tetradecanoylphorbol-13-acetate (DMBA/TPA) model of skin carcinogenesis. Furthermore, mouse embryo fibroblasts (MEFs) from DUSP5(-/-) mice show increased levels of nuclear phospho-ERK immediately after TPA stimulation and fail to accumulate total ERK in the nucleus compared with DUSP5(+/+) cells. Surprisingly, a microarray analysis reveals that only a small number of Ras/ERK-dependent TPA-responsive transcripts are up-regulated on deletion of DUSP5 in MEFs and mouse skin. The most up-regulated gene on DUSP5 loss encodes SerpinB2, an inhibitor of extracellular urokinase plasminogen activator and deletion of DUSP5 acts synergistically with mutant HRas(Q61L) and TPA to activate ERK-dependent SerpinB2 expression at the transcriptional level. SerpinB2 has previously been implicated as a mediator of DMBA/TPA-induced skin carcinogenesis. By analyzing DUSP5(-/-), SerpinB2(-/-) double knockout mice, we demonstrate that deletion of SerpinB2 abrogates the increased sensitivity to papilloma formation seen on DUSP5 deletion. We conclude that DUSP5 performs a key nonredundant role in regulating nuclear ERK activation, localization, and gene expression. Furthermore, our results suggest an in vivo role for DUSP5 as a tumor suppressor by modulating the oncogenic potential of activated Ras in the epidermis.

Journal details

Volume 111
Issue number 51
Pages 18267-18272
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