Semaphorin 3B inhibits the phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase/Akt pathway through neuropilin-1 in lung and breast cancer cells

Emely Castro-Rivera, Sophia Ran, Rolf A. Brekken, John D. Minna

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

70 Scopus citations


Semaphorin 3B (SEMA3B), located at 3p21.3, is a secreted member of the semaphorin family important in axonal guidance. SEMA3B undergoes allele and expression loss in lung and breast cancer and can function as a tumor suppressor. Previously, we found that SEMA3B induces apoptosis in tumor cells either by reexpression or when applied as a soluble ligand. SEMA3B-induced apoptosis was mediated, in part, by blocking vascular endothelial growth factor autocrine activity in tumor cells. In the current study, treatment of lung and breast cancer cells with picomolar concentrations of soluble SEMA3B inhibited their growth; induced apoptosis; and was associated with decreased Akt phosphorylation, increase in cytochrome c release and caspase-3 cleavage, as well as increased phosphorylation of several proapoptotic proteins, including glycogen synthase kinase-3β, FKHR, and MDM-2. Lung and breast cancer lines resistant to SEMA3B did not showthese signaling changes and a tumor-derived missense SEMA3B mutant was inactive in this regard, providing specificity. SEMA3B-mediated inhibition of proliferation and induction of apoptosis in cancer cells were blocked by expressing a constitutively active Akt mutant and are linked to tumor cell expression of neuropilin-1 (Np-1). SEMA3B-insensitive Np-1-negative tumor cells acquired sensitivity to SEMA3B after forced expression of Np-1, whereas SEMA3B-sensitive Np-1-positive tumor cells lost sensitivity to SEMA3B after knockdown of Np-1 by small interfering RNA. We conclude that SEMA3B is a potential tumor suppressor that induces apoptosis in SEMA3B-inactivated tumor cells through the Np-1 receptor by inactivating the Akt signaling pathway.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8295-8303
Number of pages9
JournalCancer research
Issue number20
StatePublished - Oct 15 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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