Sestrin2 positively regulates AKT signaling and survival in human squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma cells [Signal Transduction]

November 6th, 2014 by Zhao, B., Shah, P., Budanov, A., Qiang, L., Ming, M., Aplin, A., Sims, D. M., He, Y.-Y.

Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States and is mainly caused by environmental UV radiation. Reducing skin cancer incidence is becoming an urgent issue. The stress-inducible protein Sestrin2 (Sesn2) plays an important role in maintaining redox and metabolic homeostasis and their related pathologies. However, the role of Sesn2 in cancer remains unclear. Here we show that UVB radiation induces Sesn2 expression in normal human keratinocytes, mouse skin, normal human melanocytes, and melanoma cells. In addition, Sesn2 promotes AKT activation through a PTEN-dependent mechanism. Sesn2 deletion or knockdown sensitizes squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) cells to 5-fluorouracil-induced apoptosis, and melanoma cells to UVB- and vemurafenib-induced apoptosis. In mice, Sesn2 knockdown suppresses tumor growth from injected human SCC and melanoma cells. Lastly, as compared with normal skin, Sesn2 is up-regulated in both human skin SCC and melanoma. Our findings demonstrate that Sesn2 promotes AKT activation and survival in response to UVB stress and chemotherapeutics, and suggest that Sesn2 is oncogenic in skin SCC and melanoma.