Naturally-occurring hotspot cancer mutations in Gα13 promote oncogenic signaling

Bladder Cancer

J Biol Chem. 2020 Oct 27:jbc.AC120.014698. doi: 10.1074/jbc.AC120.014698. Online ahead of print.


<s></s>Heterotrimeric G-proteins are signaling switches broadly divided into four families based on the sequence and functional similarity of their Gα subunits: Gs, Gi/o, Gq/11 and G12/13. Artificial mutations that activate Gα subunits of each of these families have long been known to induce oncogenic transformation in experimental systems. With the advent of next-generation sequencing, activating hotspot mutations in Gs, Gi/o or Gq/11 proteins have also been identified in patient tumor samples. In contrast, patient tumor-associated G12/13 mutations characterized to date lead to inactivation rather than activation. By using bioinformatic pathway analysis and signaling assays, here we identified cancer-associated hotspot mutations in Arg-200 of Gα13 (encoded by GNA13) as potent activators of oncogenic signaling. First, we found that components of a G12/13-dependent signaling cascade that culminates in activation of the Hippo pathway effectors YAP and TAZ is frequently altered in bladder cancer. Upregulation of this signaling cascade correlates with increased YAP/TAZ activation transcriptional signatures in this cancer type. Among the G12/13 pathway alterations were mutations in Arg-200 of Gα13, which we validated to promote YAP/TAZ-dependent (TEAD) and MRTF-A/B-depedent (SRE.L) transcriptional activity. We further showed that this mechanism relies on the same RhoGEF-RhoGTPase cascade components that are upregulated in bladder cancers. Moreover, Gα13 Arg-200 mutants induced oncogenic transformation in vitro as determined by foci formation assays. In summary, our findings on Gα13 mutants establish that naturally-occurring hotspot mutations in Gα subunits of any of the four families of heterotrimeric G-proteins are putative cancer drivers.