Oncogenic role of Merlin/NF2 in glioblastoma

P A Guerrero, W Yin, L Camacho, D Marchetti
Oncogene 2015 May 14, 34 (20): 2621-30
Glioblastoma is the most common and aggressive primary brain tumor in adults, with a poor prognosis because of its resistance to radiotherapy and chemotherapy. Merlin/NF2 (moesin-ezrin-radixin-like protein/neurofibromatosis type 2) is a tumor suppressor found to be mutated in most nervous system tumors; however, it is not mutated in glioblastomas. Merlin associates with several transmembrane receptors and intracellular proteins serving as an anchoring molecule. Additionally, it acts as a key component of cell motility. By selecting sub-populations of U251 glioblastoma cells, we observed that high expression of phosphorylated Merlin at serine 518 (S518-Merlin), NOTCH1 and epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) correlated with increased cell proliferation and tumorigenesis. These cells were defective in cell-contact inhibition with changes in Merlin phosphorylation directly affecting NOTCH1 and EGFR expression, as well as downstream targets HES1 (hairy and enhancer of split-1) and CCND1 (cyclin D1). Of note, we identified a function for S518-Merlin, which is distinct from what has been reported when the expression of Merlin is diminished in relation to EGFR and NOTCH1 expression, providing first-time evidence that demonstrates that the phosphorylation of S518-Merlin in glioblastoma promotes oncogenic properties that are not only the result of inactivation of the tumor suppressor role of Merlin but also an independent process implicating a Merlin-driven regulation of NOTCH1 and EGFR.

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