Direct binding of MEK1 and MEK2 to AKT induces Foxo1 phosphorylation, cellular migration and metastasis.
Sci Rep. 2017 Feb 22;7:43078. doi: 10.1038/srep43078.
Crosstalk between the ERK cascade and other signaling pathways is one of the means by which it acquires its signaling specificity. Here we identified a direct interaction of both MEK1 and MEK2 with AKT. The interaction is mediated by the proline rich domain of MEK1/2 and regulated by phosphorylation of Ser298 in MEK1, or Ser306 in MEK2, which we identified here as a novel regulatory site. We further developed a blocking peptide, which inhibits the interaction between MEK and AKT, and when applied to cells, affects migration and adhesion, but not proliferation. The specific mechanism of action of the MEK-AKT complex involves phosphorylation of the migration-related transcription factor FoxO1. Importantly, prevention of the interaction results in a decreased metastasis formation in a breast cancer mouse model. Thus, the identified interaction both sheds light on how signaling specificity is determined, and represents a possible new therapeutic target for metastatic cancer.