Kallikrein 6 protease advances colon tumorigenesis induction of the high mobility group A2 protein.

Chen H, Sells E, Pandey R, Abril ER, Hsu C-H, Krouse RS, Nagle RB, Pampalakis G, Sotiropoulou G, Ignatenko NA. 2019. Kallikrein 6 protease advances colon tumorigenesis induction of the high mobility group A2 protein. Oncotarget. 10:6062–6078. doi:10.18632/oncotarget.27153.

Kallikrein-related peptidase 6 (KLK6) overexpression is commonly observed in primary tumors of colorectal cancer (CRC) patients and has been associated with tumor aggressiveness, metastasis, and poor prognosis. We previously established a unique contribution of KLK6 in colon cancer metastasis via a specific network of microRNAs and mRNAs. Here we evaluated the cellular functions of KLK6 protease in Caco-2 colon adenocarcinoma cell line after introduction of the enzymatically active or inactive form of the enzyme. We found that proteolytically active KLK6 increased Caco-2 cells invasiveness and decreased the animal survival in the orthotopic colon cancer model. The active KLK6 induced phosphorylation of SMAD 2/3 proteins leading to the altered expression of the epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) markers. KLK6 overexpression also induced the RNA-binding protein LIN28B and high-mobility group AT-hook 2 (HMGA2) transcription factor, two essential regulators of cell invasion and metastasis. In the CRC patients, KLK6 protein levels were elevated in the non-cancerous distant and adjacent tissues, compared to their paired tumor tissues ( < 0.0001 and = 0.0157, respectively). Patients with mutant K-RAS tumors had significantly higher level of KLK6 protein in the luminal surface of non-cancerous distant tissue, compared to the corresponding tissues of the patients with K-RAS wild type tumors ( <= 0.05). Furthermore, KLK6 and HMGA2 immunohistochemistry (IHC) scores in patients’ tumors and paired adjacent tissues positively correlated (Spearman correlation < 0.01 and = 0.03, respectively). These findings demonstrate the critical function of the KLK6 enzyme in colon cancer progression and its contribution to the signaling network in colon cancer.