Invadopodia are actin-based proteolytic membrane protrusions required for invasive behavior and tumor growth. In this study, we used our high-content screening assay to identify kinases whose activity affects invadopodia formation. Among the top hits selected for further analysis was TAO3, an STE20-like kinase of the GCK subfamily. TAO3 was overexpressed in many human cancers and regulated invadopodia formation in melanoma, breast, and bladder cancers. Furthermore, TAO3 catalytic activity facilitated melanoma growth in three-dimensional matrices and in vivo. A novel, potent catalytic inhibitor of TAO3 was developed that inhibited invadopodia formation and function as well as tumor cell extravasation and growth. Treatment with this inhibitor demonstrated that TAO3 activity is required for endosomal trafficking of TKS5a, an obligate invadopodia scaffold protein. A phosphoproteomics screen for TAO3 substrates revealed the dynein subunit protein LIC2 as a relevant substrate. Knockdown of LIC2 or expression of a phosphomimetic form promoted invadopodia formation. Thus, TAO3 is a new therapeutic target with a distinct mechanism of action.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research