RSK1 drives p27Kip1 phosphorylation at T198 to promote RhoA inhibition and increase cell motility.
p90 ribosomal S6 kinase (RSK1) is an effector of both Ras/MEK/MAPK and PI3K/PDK1 pathways. We present evidence that RSK1 drives p27 phosphorylation at T198 to increase RhoA-p27 binding and cell motility. RSK1 activation and p27pT198 both increase in early G(1). As for many kinase-substrate pairs, cellular RSK1 coprecipitates with p27. siRNA to RSK1 and RSK1 inhibition both rapidly reduce cellular p27pT198. RSK1 overexpression increases p27pT198, p27-cyclin D1-Cdk4 complexes, and p27 stability. Moreover, RSK1 transfectants show mislocalization of p27 to cytoplasm, increased motility, and reduced RhoA-GTP, phospho-cofilin, and actin stress fibers, all of which were reversed by shRNA to p27. Phosphorylation by RSK1 increased p27pT198 binding to RhoA in vitro, whereas p27T157A/T198A bound poorly to RhoA compared with WTp27 in cells. Coprecipitation of cellular p27-RhoA was increased in cells with constitutive PI3K activation and increased in early G(1). Thus T198 phosphorylation not only stabilizes p27 and mislocalizes p27 to the cytoplasm but also promotes RhoA-p27 interaction and RhoA pathway inhibition. These data link p27 phosphorylation at T198 and cell motility. As for other PI3K effectors, RSK1 phosphorylates p27 at T198. Because RSK1 is also activated by MAPK, the increased cell motility and metastatic potential of cancer cells with PI3K and/or MAPK pathway activation may result in part from RSK1 activation, leading to accumulation of p27T198 in the cytoplasm, p27:RhoA binding, inhibition of RhoA/Rock pathway activation, and loss of actomyosin stability.