Activation of NFAT by HGF and IGF-1 via ARF6 and its effector ASAP1 promotes uveal melanoma metastasis

Jackson R. Richards, Donghan Shin, Rob Pryor, Lise K. Sorensen, Zhonglou Sun, Won Mi So, Garam Park, Roger Wolff, Amanda Truong, Martin McMahon, Allie H. Grossmann, J. William Harbour, Weiquan Zhu, Shannon J. Odelberg, Jae Hyuk Yoo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Preventing or effectively treating metastatic uveal melanoma (UM) is critical because it occurs in about half of patients and confers a very poor prognosis. There is emerging evidence that hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) and insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) promote metastasis and contribute to the striking metastatic hepatotropism observed in UM metastasis. However, the molecular mechanisms by which HGF and IGF-1 promote UM liver metastasis have not been elucidated. ASAP1, which acts as an effector for the small GTPase ARF6, is highly expressed in the subset of uveal melanomas most likely to metastasize. Here, we found that HGF and IGF-1 hyperactivate ARF6, leading to its interaction with ASAP1, which then acts as an effector to induce nuclear localization and transcriptional activity of NFAT1. Inhibition of any component of this pathway impairs cellular invasiveness. Additionally, knocking down ASAP1 or inhibiting NFAT signaling reduces metastasis in a xenograft mouse model of UM. The discovery of this signaling pathway represents not only an advancement in our understanding of the biology of uveal melanoma metastasis but also identifies a novel pathway that could be targeted to treat or prevent metastatic uveal melanoma.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2629-2640
Number of pages12
Issue number35
StatePublished - Aug 25 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Cancer Research


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