Tumor cells use a wide variety of post-translational mechanisms to modify the functional repertoire of their transcriptome. One emerging but still understudied mechanism involves the export of cytoplasmic proteins that then partner with cell-surface receptors and modify both the surface-display kinetics and signaling properties of these receptors. Recent investigations demonstrate moonlighting roles for the proteins epimorphin, FGF1, FGF2, PLK1 and Ku8O, to name a few, during oncogenesis and inflammation. Here, we review the molecular mechanisms of unconventional cytoplasmic-protein export by focusing on the mitotic-spindle/hyaluronan-binding protein RHAMM, which is hyper-expressed in many human tumors. Intracellular RHAMM associates with BRCA1 and BARDl; this association attenuates the mitotic-spindle-promoting activity of RHAMM that might contribute to tumor progression by promoting genomic instability. Extracellular RHAMM-CD44 partnering sustains CD44 surface display and enhances CD44-mediated signaling through ERK1 and ERK2 (ERK1/2); it might also contribute to tumor progression by enhancing and/or activating the latent tumor-promoting properties of CD44. The unconventional export of proteins such as RHAMM is a novel process that modifies the roles of tumor suppressors and promoters, such as BRCA1 and CD44, and might provide new targets for therapeutic intervention.
- RHAMM (HMMR)
- Unconventional protein export