Targeting 14-3-3ϵ activates apoptotic signaling to prevent cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma

Thomas R. Holmes, Jenan Al Matouq, Matti Holmes, Natasha Sioda, Justin C. Rudd, Celia Bloom, Lauren Nicola, Nicholas Y. Palermo, Justin G. Madson, Sándor Lovas, Laura A. Hansen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


More than a million cases of cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma are diagnosed in the USA each year, and its incidence is increasing. Most of these malignancies arise from premalignant lesions, providing an opportunity for intervention before malignant progression. We previously documented how cytoplasmic mislocalization of CDC25A in premalignant and malignant skin cancers confers resistance to apoptotic cell death via a mechanism that depends on its interaction with 14-3-3ϵ. From these data, we hypothesized that 14-3-3ϵ overexpression drives skin tumor development and progression, such that targeting 14-3-3ϵ may be a useful strategy for skin cancer treatment. Like CDC25A, 14-3-3ϵ was overexpressed and mislocalized to the cytoplasm of both benign and malignant human skin cancer. Skin-targeted deletion of the 14-3-3ϵ gene reduced skin tumor development by 75% and blocked malignant progression. 14-3-3ϵ suppressed apoptosis through activation of Akt, leading to inhibition of BCL2 associated agonist of cell death and upregulation of Survivin. Using virtual tetrapeptide libraries, we developed a novel peptide that specifically blocked 14-3-3ϵ heterodimerization and thereby prevented its interaction with CDC25A. The peptide reduced prosurvival signaling, killed skin cancer cells and reduced skin tumor growth in xenograft. Normal skin keratinocytes were unaffected by inhibition or deletion of 14-3-3ϵ. Thus, targeting of 14-3-3ϵ dimerization is a promising strategy for the treatment of premalignant skin lesions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)232-242
Number of pages11
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research


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