Background: Members of the karyopherin superfamily serve as nuclear transport receptors/adaptor proteins and provide exchange of macromolecules between the nucleo- and cytoplasm. Emerging evidence suggests a subset of karyopherins to be dysregulated in hepatocarcinogenesis including karyopherin-α2 (KPNA2). However, the functional and regulatory role of KPNA2 in liver cancer remains incompletely understood. Methods: Quantitative proteomics (LC-MS/MS, ~ 1750 proteins in total) was used to study changes in global protein abundance upon siRNA-mediated KPNA2 knockdown in HCC cells. Functional and mechanistic analyses included colony formation and 2D migration assays, co-immunoprecipitation (CoIP), chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP), qRT-PCR, immmunblotting, and subcellular fractionation. In vitro results were correlated with data derived from a murine HCC model and HCC patient samples (3 cohorts, n > 600 in total). Results: The proteomic approach revealed the pro-tumorigenic, microtubule (MT) interacting protein stathmin (STMN1) among the most downregulated proteins upon KPNA2 depletion in HCC cells. We further observed that KPNA2 knockdown leads to reduced tumor cell migration and colony formation of HCC cells, which could be phenocopied by direct knockdown of stathmin. As the underlying regulatory mechanism, we uncovered E2F1 and TFDP1 as transport substrates of KPNA2 being retained in the cytoplasm upon KPNA2 ablation, thereby resulting in reduced STMN1 expression. Finally, murine and human HCC data indicate significant correlations of STMN1 expression with E2F1/TFPD1 and with KPNA2 expression and their association with poor prognosis in HCC patients. Conclusion: Our data suggest that KPNA2 regulates STMN1 by import of E2F1/TFDP1 and thereby provide a novel link between nuclear transport and MT-interacting proteins in HCC with functional and prognostic significance.
Karyopherin α2-dependent import of E2F1 and TFDP1 maintains protumorigenic stathmin expression in liver cancer / Drucker, E.; Holzer, K.; Pusch, S.; Winkler, J.; Calvisi, D. F.; Eiteneuer, E.; Herpel, E.; Goeppert, B.; Roessler, S.; Ori, A.; Schirmacher, P.; Breuhahn, K.; Singer, S.. - In: CELL COMMUNICATION AND SIGNALING. - ISSN 1478-811X. - 17:1(2019). [10.1186/s12964-019-0456-x]