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PLoS genetics

Stromal liver kinase B1 [STK11] signaling loss induces oviductal adenomas and endometrial cancer by activating mammalian Target of Rapamycin Complex 1.


PMID 22916036

Abstract

Germline mutations of the Liver Kinase b1 (LKB1/STK11) tumor suppressor gene have been linked to Peutz-Jeghers Syndrome (PJS), an autosomal-dominant, cancer-prone disorder in which patients develop neoplasms in several organs, including the oviduct, ovary, and cervix. We have conditionally deleted Lkb1 in Müllerian duct mesenchyme-derived cells of the female reproductive tract and observed expansion of the stromal compartment and hyperplasia and/or neoplasia of adjacent epithelial cells throughout the reproductive tract with paratubal cysts and adenomyomas in oviducts and, eventually, endometrial cancer. Examination of the proliferation marker phospho-histone H3 and mammalian Target Of Rapamycin Complex 1 (mTORC1) pathway members revealed increased proliferation and mTORC1 activation in stromal cells of both the oviduct and uterus. Treatment with rapamycin, an inhibitor of mTORC1 activity, decreased tumor burden in adult Lkb1 mutant mice. Deletion of the genes for Tuberous Sclerosis 1 (Tsc1) or Tsc2, regulators of mTORC1 that are downstream of LKB1 signaling, in the oviductal and uterine stroma phenocopies some of the defects observed in Lkb1 mutant mice, confirming that dysregulated mTORC1 activation in the Lkb1-deleted stroma contributes to the phenotype. Loss of PTEN, an upstream regulator of mTORC1 signaling, along with Lkb1 deletion significantly increased tumor burden in uteri and induced tumorigenesis in the cervix and vagina. These studies show that LKB1/TSC1/TSC2/mTORC1 signaling in mesenchymal cells is important for the maintenance of epithelial integrity and suppression of carcinogenesis in adjacent epithelial cells. Because similar changes in the stromal population are also observed in human oviductal/ovarian adenoma and endometrial adenocarcinoma patients, we predict that dysregulated mTORC1 activity by upstream mechanisms similar to those described in these model systems contributes to the pathogenesis of these human diseases.