Here, we address the function of protein phosphatase 6 (PP6) loss on K-ras-initiated tumorigenesis in keratinocytes. To do so, we developed tamoxifen-inducible double mutant (K-rasG12D-expressing and Ppp6c-deficient) mice in which K-rasG12D expression is driven by the cytokeratin 14 (K14) promoter. Doubly-mutant mice showed early onset tumor formation in lips, nipples, external genitalia, anus and palms, and had to be killed by 3 weeks after induction by tamoxifen, while comparably-treated K-rasG12D-expressing mice did not. H&E-staining of lip tumors before euthanasia revealed that all were papillomas, some containing focal squamous cell carcinomas. Immunohistochemical analysis of lips of doubly-mutant vs K-rasG12D mice revealed that cell proliferation and cell size increased approximately 2-fold relative to K-rasG12D-expressing mutants, and epidermal thickness of lip tissue greatly increased relative to that seen in K-rasG12D-only mice. Moreover, AKT phosphorylation increased in K-rasG12D-expressing/Ppp6c-deficient cells, as did phosphorylation of the downstream effectors 4EBP1, S6 and GSK3, suggesting that protein synthesis and survival signals are enhanced in lip tissues of doubly-mutant mice. Finally, increased numbers of K14-positive cells were present in the suprabasal layer of doubly-mutant mice, indicating abnormal keratinocyte differentiation, and γH2AX-positive cells accumulated, indicating perturbed DNA repair. Taken together, Ppp6c deficiency enhances K-rasG12D-dependent tumor promotion.
- AKT pathway
- mouse keratinocyte
- protein phosphatase 6
- tumor initiation and promotion