Background: Small cell lung cancer (SCLC) is the most aggressive form of lung cancer, and new molecular insights are necessary for prognostic and therapeutic advances. Methods: Dopamine and cAMP-regulated phosphoprotein, Mr 32000 (DARPP-32) and its N-terminally truncated splice variant, t-DARPP, were stably overexpressed or ablated in human DMS-53 and H1048 SCLC cells. Functional assays and immunoblotting were used to assess how DARPP-32 isoforms regulate SCLC cell growth, proliferation, and apoptosis. DARPP-32-modulated SCLC cells were orthotopically injected into the lungs of SCID mice to evaluate how DARPP-32 and t-DARPP regulate neuroendocrine tumour growth. Immunostaining for DARPP-32 proteins was performed in SCLC patient-derived specimens. Bioinformatics analysis and subsequent transcription assays were used to determine the mechanistic basis of DARPP-32-regulated SCLC growth. Results: We demonstrate in mice that DARPP-32 and t-DARPP promote SCLC growth through increased Akt/Erk-mediated proliferation and anti-apoptotic signalling. DARPP-32 isoforms are overexpressed in SCLC patient-derived tumour tissue, but undetectable in physiologically normal lung. Achaete-scute homologue 1 (ASCL1) transcriptionally activates DARPP-32 isoforms in human SCLC cells. Conclusions: We reveal new regulatory mechanisms of SCLC oncogenesis that suggest DARPP-32 isoforms may represent a negative prognostic indicator for SCLC and serve as a potential target for the development of new therapies.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
Funding information This study was supported by National Institutes of Health R00-CA187035 funding (to L.H.H.), Fifth District Eagles Cancer Telethon Postdoctoral Fellowship Award (to S.K.A.), PhRMA Foundation Research Starter Grant (to R.Y. and Y. R.), and The Hormel Foundation.
© 2020, The Author(s).