GASC1 promotes hepatocellular carcinoma progression by inhibiting the degradation of ROCK2
Na Shao, Jiamin Cheng , Hong Huang , Xiaoshan Gong , Yongling Lu , Muhammad Idris , Xu Peng , Belinda X. Ong , Qiongyi Zhang , Feng Xu and Chungang Liu
Shao et al. Cell Death and Disease (2021) 12:253 https://doi.org/10.1038/s41419-021-03550-w
Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is a devastating malignancy without targeted therapeutic options. Our results indicated that the histone demethylase GASC1 signature is associated with later tumor stage and poorer survival in HCC patients. GASC1 depletion led to diminished HCC proliferation and tumor growth. A distinct heterogeneity in GASC1 levels was observed among HCC cell populations, predicting their inherent high or low tumor-initiating capacity. Mechanistically, GASC1 is involved in the regulation of several components of the Rho-GTPase signaling pathway including its downstream target ROCK2. GASC1 demethylase activity ensured the transcriptional repression of FBXO42, a ROCK2 protein-ubiquitin ligase, thereby inhibiting ROCK2 degradation via K63-linked poly-ubiquitination. Treatment with the GASC1 inhibitor SD70 impaired the growth of both HCC cell lines and xenografts in mice, sensitizing them to standard-of-care chemotherapy. This work identifies GASC1 as a malignant-cell-selective target in HCC, and GASC1-specific therapeutics represent promising candidates for new treatment options to control this malignancy.