Prohibitin (PHB) is indispensable for Ras-induced Raf-1 activation, cell migration and growth; however, the exact role of PHB in the molecular pathogenesis of cancer metastasis remains largely unexamined. Here, we found a positive correlation between plasma membrane-associated PHB and the clinical stages of cancer. The level of PHB phosphorylated at threonine 258 (T258) and tyrosine 259 (Y259) in human cancer-cell membranes correlated with the invasiveness of cancer cells. Overexpression of phosphorylated PHB (phospho-PHB) in the lipid-raft domain of the cell membrane enhanced cell migration/invasion through PI3K/Akt and Raf-1/ERK activation. It also enhanced epithelial- mesenchymal transition, matrix metalloproteinase-2 activity and invasiveness of cancer cells in vitro. Immunoprecipitation analysis demonstrated that phospho-PHB associated with Raf-1, Akt and Ras in the membrane and was essential for the activation of Raf-1 signaling by Ras. Mice implanted with cancer cells stably overexpressing PHB in the plasma membrane showed enlarged cervical tumors, enhanced metastasis and shorter survival time compared with mice implanted with cancer cells without PHB overexpression. Dephosphorylation of PHB at T258 by site-directed mutagenesis diminished the in vitro and in vivo effects of PHB. These results suggest that increase in phospho-PHB T258 in the raft domain of the plasma membrane has a role in the Ras-driven activation of PI3K/Akt and Raf-1/ERK-signaling cascades and results in the promotion of cancer metastasis.
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