The vast majority of human cancers have abnormal numbers of chromosomes, known as aneuploidy. However, the molecular basis of aneuploidy and its role in tumor development remain poorly understood. Recent studies led to the identification of a new class of mitotic regulators consisting of proteins that mediate nucleocytoplasmic transport in interphase. Our broad long-term goal is to provide insight into the biological relevance of these nuclear transport factors and their possible role in preventing chromosomal instability and tumorigenesis. The specific goal of the current proposal is to dissect the mitotic functions of the nuclear pore complex protein RanBP2 at the molecular, cellular and organismal levels, and to determine how RanBP2 downregulation promotes tumorigenesis. We have generated a series of mice in which the nucleoporin RanBP2 protein is reduced in a graded fashion from normal to zero by the use of wild-type, knockout and hypomorphic alleles. Mice lacking RanBP2 are embryonically lethal, but mice with very low amounts of the protein are viable and overtly normal. Consistent with a role for RanBP2 in mitosis, we find that these mice develop severe aneuploidy. The main mitotic defect that we observe is chromatin-bridge formation in anaphase, a phenotype reminiscent of impaired topoisomerase II? function.
In specific aim one, we will use both genetic and biochemical approaches to establish the mechanism by which RanBP2 regulates accurate sister chromatid segregation in anaphase. Furthermore, using conditional knockout cells we will determine the critical functional domain(s) of RanBP2. Preliminary studies show that mice with low levels of RanBP2 have increased susceptibility to spontaneous and carcinogen-induced tumors, especially lung tumors. Importantly, using quantitative RT-PCR analysis of primary human tumors and human cancer cell lines we found that RanBP2 expression is dramatically reduced in many lung adenocarcinomas, suggesting that RanBP2 has a tumor suppressive function in both mice and humans.
In specific aim two, we will use already established and newly designed RanBP2 mutant mouse models to resolve the mechanism by which RanBP2 insufficiency promotes tumorigenesis. The profound sensitivity of RanBP2 mutant mice to the carcinogen DMBA indicates that RanBP2 insufficiency strongly synergizes with other gene mutations in tumorigenesis.
In specific aim three, we will identify these cancer gene mutations by the use of the "Sleeping Beauty" transposon system. In addition to this unbiased approach, we will use a candidate gene approach to determine whether K-ras synergizes with RanBP2 deficiency in lung carcinogenesis. At the basic research level, completion of these aims will provide insight into the mechanism by which a prominent nuclear transport factor maintains chromosomal stability and prevents cancer. At the clinical level, these studies may provide the basis for improved detection, prevention and treatment of cancer in humans.
Our long-term objective is to understand the mitotic functions of nuclear pore complex proteins, and to determine how impairment of these functions might contribute to chromosomal instability and tumor formation. In this application, we show that mice with low amounts of the nuclear pore complex protein RanBP2 have high rates of chromosome missegregation and are prone to tumors, particularly lung adenocarcinomas. Subsequent analysis of panels of primary human tumors and human cancer cell lines revealed that RanBP2 expression is dramatically reduced in lung adenocarcinomas, indicating that RanBP2 functions as a tumor suppressor in both mice and humans. This year, approximately 175,000 Americans will be newly diagnosed with lung cancer and more than 160,000 patients will die of their disease. It is clear that development of more effective treatments is necessary to improve patient survival, which will require a better understanding of the molecules and pathways that drive lung cancer. We expect that insights gained from our proposal will ultimately lead to improved detection, prevention and/or treatment of cancer in humans.
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