Mucoepidermoid (MEC) salivary gland tumors arise from a t(11;19) rearrangement which generates a fusion oncogene, Mect1-Maml2, that functions to activate CREB-responsive target genes. To determine if sustained expression of Mect1-Maml2 is required for tumor cell growth, we first showed that ectopic expression of Mect1-Maml2 in rat epithelial RK3E cells is tumorigenic in vivo in nude mice and that excised xenografts continue to express the fusion oncogene. We then generated a hairpin RNAi vector that selectively suppressed the fusion peptide and showed that ectopic expression in either parotid or pulmonary MEC tumor cell lines containing the t(11;19) rearrangement resulted in at least 90% colony growth inhibition. In contrast, single nucleotide changes within this RNAi sequence abolished the ability to suppress Mect1-Maml2 protein and abolished all growth inhibition of these MEC tumor lines. In addition, the RNAi-specific vector had no effect on colony growth of non-MEC tumors including a lung tumor or two other salivary gland cell lines that do not express Mect1-Maml2. We also generated a mutant Mect1-Maml2 expression plasmid that carried silent nucleotide changes within the RNAi target sequence and observed that co-transfection of this mutant, but not wild-type Mect1-Maml2, could partially rescue RNAi growth inhibition in the MEC tumor line. The recent detection of acquired fusion oncogenes in epithelial solid tumors has suggested new possibilities for the diagnosis and therapy of these cancers. Our data show that the 'gain-of-function' activity from aberrant Mect1-Maml2 expression is a candidate therapeutic target for this group of malignant salivary gland tumors.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Molecular Biology
- Cancer Research