L-plastin Ser5 phosphorylation is modulated by the PI3K/SGK pathway and promotes breast cancer cell invasiveness

Raquel A.C. Machado, Dunja Stojevski, Sébastien De Landtsheer, Philippe Lucarelli, Alexandre Baron, Thomas Sauter, Elisabeth Schaffner-Reckinger*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Metastasis is the predominant cause for cancer morbidity and mortality accounting for approximatively 90% of cancer deaths. The actin-bundling protein L-plastin has been proposed as a metastatic marker and phosphorylation on its residue Ser5 is known to increase its actin-bundling activity. We recently showed that activation of the ERK/MAPK signalling pathway leads to L-plastin Ser5 phosphorylation and that the downstream kinases RSK1 and RSK2 are able to directly phosphorylate Ser5. Here we investigate the involvement of the PI3K pathway in L-plastin Ser5 phosphorylation and the functional effect of this phosphorylation event in breast cancer cells. Methods: To unravel the signal transduction network upstream of L-plastin Ser5 phosphorylation, we performed computational modelling based on immunoblot analysis data, followed by experimental validation through inhibition/overexpression studies and in vitro kinase assays. To assess the functional impact of L-plastin expression/Ser5 phosphorylation in breast cancer cells, we either silenced L-plastin in cell lines initially expressing endogenous L-plastin or neoexpressed L-plastin wild type and phosphovariants in cell lines devoid of endogenous L-plastin. The established cell lines were used for cell biology experiments and confocal microscopy analysis. Results: Our modelling approach revealed that, in addition to the ERK/MAPK pathway and depending on the cellular context, the PI3K pathway contributes to L-plastin Ser5 phosphorylation through its downstream kinase SGK3. The results of the transwell invasion/migration assays showed that shRNA-mediated knockdown of L-plastin in BT-20 or HCC38 cells significantly reduced cell invasion, whereas stable expression of the phosphomimetic L-plastin Ser5Glu variant led to increased migration and invasion of BT-549 and MDA-MB-231 cells. Finally, confocal image analysis combined with zymography experiments and gelatin degradation assays provided evidence that L-plastin Ser5 phosphorylation promotes L-plastin recruitment to invadopodia, MMP-9 activity and concomitant extracellular matrix degradation. Conclusion: Altogether, our results demonstrate that L-plastin Ser5 phosphorylation increases breast cancer cell invasiveness. Being a downstream molecule of both ERK/MAPK and PI3K/SGK pathways, L-plastin is proposed here as a potential target for therapeutic approaches that are aimed at blocking dysregulated signalling outcome of both pathways and, thus, at impairing cancer cell invasion and metastasis formation. [MediaObject not available: see fulltext.]

Original languageEnglish
Article number22
Pages (from-to)22
JournalCell Communication and Signaling
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 22 Feb 2021


  • Actin-bundling
  • ERK/MAPK pathway
  • Extracellular matrix degradation
  • Invadopodia
  • Invasion
  • L-plastin
  • Metastasis
  • PI3K pathway
  • RSK
  • SGK


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