Aberrant activation of tyrosine kinases is linked causally to human cancers. Activated Cdc42-associated kinase (Ack1), an intracellular tyrosine kinase, has primarily been studied for its signaling properties but has not been linked to specific pathologic conditions. Herein, we report that expression of activated Ack1 in LNCaP cells, while minimally increasing growth in culture, enhanced anchorage-independent growth in vitro and dramatically accelerated tumorigenesis in nude mice. Molecular chaperone heat shock protein 90beta (Hsp90beta)-bound Ack1 and treatment of cells with geldanamycin, a Hsp90 inhibitor, inhibited Ack1 kinase activity and suppressed tumorigenesis. Further, we identify the tumor suppressor WW domain containing oxidoreductase (Wwox) as an Ack1-interacting protein. Activated Ack1 tyrosine phosphorylated Wwox, leading to rapid dissociation of the Ack1-Wwox complex and concomitant Wwox polyubiquitination followed by degradation. Tyrosine phosphorylation of Wwox was critical for its degradation, as splice variant WwoxDelta5-8 that was not phosphorylated by Ack1 failed to undergo polyubiquitination and degradation. It has been reported that phosphorylation of Wwox at Tyr33 stimulated its proapoptotic activity. We observed that Y33F Wwox mutant was still tyrosine phosphorylated and polyubiquitinated by Ack1 action. Site-directed mutagenesis revealed that activated Ack1 primarily phosphorylated Wwox at Tyr287, suggesting that phosphorylation of distinct tyrosine residues activate or degrade Wwox. Primary androgen-independent prostate tumors but not benign prostate showed increased tyrosine-phosphorylated Ack1 and decreased Wwox. Taken together, these data indicate that Ack1 stimulated prostate tumorigenesis in part by negatively regulating the proapoptotic tumor suppressor, Wwox. Further, these findings suggest that Ack1 could be a novel therapeutic target for prostate cancer.
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