Contact inhibition limits cell growth in tissues, but is highly subject to regulation. It can be overcome in rapidly growing tissues during development, regeneration, and wound healing. Contact inhibition is frequently lost in tumor cells, allowing tumors to grow well beyond their normal tissue constraints. The mechanisms underlying contact inhibition are poorly understood, but cadherin-mediated cell-cell adhesion is thought to play an important role. We have shown that homophilic adhesive binding between E-cadherin proteins at the cell surface, in association with catenins bound to their cytoplasmic domains, directly mediate contact inhibition of growth. We've found that cadherin-catenin mediated contact inhibition occurs via two major pathways; inhibition of growth factor receptor signaling, which we now find results from inhibition of Src family kinases (SFKs); and our preliminary findings also implicate the Hippo signaling pathway, in particular the nuclear localization of the Hippo pathway transcriptional mediator YAP. The Hippo pathway was originally discovered as a regulator of organ size in Drosophila embryos, and recently has been shown to regulate mammalian cell growth, contact inhibition, and tumor development. We have made another novel preliminary finding that growth factor signaling and SFK activity affect YAP nuclear localization and function in some cells, suggesting another important mechanism of Hippo pathway regulation. The overall hypothesis is that E-cadherin-catenin regulates contact inhibition of growth both by stimulating the Hippo signaling pathway and by inhibiting src family kinase (SFK) activity, and in this way it serves to coordinate or balance growth inhibitory signaling with the mitogenic signaling by growth factor receptors. We will first investigate the functional and physiological relationships between E-cadherin-2-catenin mediate adhesion, Hippo pathway signaling, SFK signaling, and Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor (EGFR) signaling. We will determine the molecular mechanisms by which these pathways regulate each other in cell culture models and then test their importance in vivo for tumor formation and normal tissue development in mice.
The specific aims are: A. Elucidate the mechanism(s) by which homophilic binding between E-cadherin-catenin complexes regulates signaling through the Hippo pathway. B. Determine how EGFR and SFK signaling regulate the nuclear localization and function of the Hippo pathway transcriptional activator YAP, understand the role of Hippo pathway-mediated growth inhibition in the regulation of mitogenic signaling by EGFR and SFKs, and elucidate the mechanism(s) of regulation SFK activity by E-cadherin-catenin adhesive complexes. C. Evaluate the roles of E-cadherin-catenin-mediated contact inhibition and Hippo pathway signaling in the development of mammary glands and mammary tumors in vivo in mice, and their roles in tumorigenesis driven by Receptor Tyrosine Kinase (RTK) and SFK signaling pathways. Findings from these studies should reveal how contact inhibition regulates normal tissue development and how the loss of contact inhibition leads to the formation and progression of tumors.

Public Health Relevance

Cadherins are proteins that hold cells together in tissues and work in association with a protein inside the cell called beta-catenin. Cadherins and catenins play important roles in tissue development and cancer in two ways; by controlling physical cell-cell adhesion and by regulating cellular communication processes inside the cell. The studies in the project will analyze how these two proteins carry out their adhesion and communication functions to bring about contact inhibition of cell growth; a process that regulates normal tissue development and inhibits cancer growth.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS)
Research Project (R01)
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Intercellular Interactions (ICI)
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Nie, Zhongzhen
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Seattle Children's Hospital
United States
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Li, Hongbin; Gumbiner, Barry M (2016) Deregulation of the Hippo pathway in mouse mammary stem cells promotes mammary tumorigenesis. Mamm Genome 27:556-564
Park, Ki-Sook; Dubon, Maria Jose; Gumbiner, Barry M (2015) N-cadherin mediates the migration of MCF-10A cells undergoing bone morphogenetic protein 4-mediated epithelial mesenchymal transition. Tumour Biol 36:3549-56
Park, Ki-Sook; Gumbiner, Barry M (2015) Cadherin-6B is required for the generation of Islet-1-expressing dorsal interneurons. Biochem Biophys Res Commun 459:504-8
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Gumbiner, Barry M; Kim, Nam-Gyun (2014) The Hippo-YAP signaling pathway and contact inhibition of growth. J Cell Sci 127:709-17
Fan, Run; Kim, Nam-Gyun; Gumbiner, Barry M (2013) Regulation of Hippo pathway by mitogenic growth factors via phosphoinositide 3-kinase and phosphoinositide-dependent kinase-1. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 110:2569-74
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