Since the neoplastic phenotype of a cell is largely driven by its gene expression patterns, increasing attention is focused on transcription factors that regulate critical mediators of tumor formation and metastatic progression like the oncogenic transcription factor, signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (STAT3). Whereas normal cells have transient activation of STAT3 due to tight control by negative regulators, cancer cells frequently have inappropriate constitutive activation of STAT3 which drives increased expression of genes involved in tumorigenesis. However, little is known about proteins that interact with STAT3 to modulate its function. To identify novel STAT3-interacting proteins, we performed liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry-based profiling of STAT3-containing complexes immunoprecipitated from the triple-negative breast cancer cell lines MDA-MB-468 and SUM159PT, which have constitutively active STAT3. We identified granulin (GRN) as a novel STAT3-interacting protein and validated the STAT3-GRN interaction in breast cancer cells by co-immunoprecipitation. To investigate the functional effect of GRN on STAT3 activity, we silenced GRN using small interfering RNA. We found that GRN was necessary for constitutive and maximal cytokine-induced STAT3 transcriptional activity in breast cancer cells. GRN modulated cytokine-induced STAT3 function by enhancing STAT3 DNA binding and increasing the time-integrated amount of STAT3 activation and nuclear translocation. Silencing GRN mirrored the effect of silencing STAT3 on reducing the viability, clonogenesis, and migratory capacity of triple-negative breast cancer cells. Furthermore, GRN mRNA levels were significantly and positively correlated with STAT3 gene expression signatures indicative of STAT3 activation as well as with reduced overall survival in breast cancer patients. These studies used a proteomics approach to identify GRN as a novel STAT3 interacting protein that may serve as an important prognostic biomarker and potential therapeutic target in breast cancer.
Citation Format: Jennifer E Yeh, Simion Kreimer, Sarah R Walker, Andrea Richardson, Alexander R Ivanov, David A Frank. Granulin, a novel STAT3-interacting protein, promotes breast cancer tumorigenicity [abstract]. In: Proceedings of the Thirty-Seventh Annual CTRC-AACR San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium: 2014 Dec 9-13; San Antonio, TX. Philadelphia (PA): AACR; Cancer Res 2015;75(9 Suppl):Abstract nr P5-07-01.