Myc-associated zinc-finger protein promotes clear cell renal cell carcinoma progression through transcriptional activation of the MAP2K2-dependent ERK pathway

Cancer Cell Int. 2021 Jun 28;21(1):323. doi: 10.1186/s12935-021-02020-9.


BACKGROUND: The dysfunction of myc-related zinc finger protein (MAZ) has been proven to contribute to tumorigenesis and development of multiple cancer types. However, the biological roles and clinical significance of MAZ in clear cell renal carcinoma (ccRCC) remain unclear.

METHODS: MAZ expression was examined in ccRCC and normal kidney tissue by quantitative real-time PCR and Western blot. Statistical analysis was used to evaluate the clinical correlation between MAZ expression and clinicopathological characteristics to determine the relationship between MAZ expression and the survival of ccRCC patients. The biological roles of MAZ in cells were investigated in vitro using MTT and colony assays. Luciferase reporter assays and chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) were used to investigate the relationship between MAZ and its potential downstream signaling molecules.

RESULTS: MAZ expression is elevated in ccRCC tissues, and higher levels of MAZ were correlated with poor survival of patients with ccRCC. MAZ upregulation elevates the proliferation ability of ccRCC cells in vitro, whereas silencing MAZ represses this ability. Our results further reveal that MAZ promotes cell growth, which is dependent on ERK signaling. Importantly, we found that MAZ positively regulates MAP2K2 expression in ccRCC cells. Mechanistically, MAZ binds to the MAP2K2 promoter and increases MAP2K2 transcription. Furthermore, MAP2K2 levels were shown to be increased in ccRCC tissues and to be associated with a poor prognosis of ccRCC patients. MAP2K2 upregulation activates the ERK signaling pathway and promotes ccRCC progression.

CONCLUSION: These results reveal that the MAZ/MAP2K2/ERK signaling axis plays a crucial role in promoting ccRCC progression, which suggests the potential therapeutic utility of MAZ in ccRCC.

PMID:34183010 | DOI:10.1186/s12935-021-02020-9