MASTL overexpression promotes chromosome instability and metastasis in breast cancer

Samuel Rogers, Rachael A. McCloy, Benjamin L. Parker, David Gallego-Ortega, Andrew M.K. Law, Venessa T. Chin, James R.W. Conway, Dirk Fey, Ewan K.A. Millar, Sandra O’Toole, Niantao Deng, Alexander Swarbrick, Paul D. Chastain, Anthony J. Cesare, Paul Timpson, C. Elizabeth Caldon, David R. Croucher, David E. James, D. Neil Watkins, Andrew Burgess

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28 Citations (Scopus)


MASTL kinase is essential for correct progression through mitosis, with loss of MASTL causing chromosome segregation errors, mitotic collapse and failure of cytokinesis. However, in cancer MASTL is most commonly amplified and overexpressed. This correlates with increased chromosome instability in breast cancer and poor patient survival in breast, ovarian and lung cancer. Global phosphoproteomic analysis of immortalised breast MCF10A cells engineered to overexpressed MASTL revealed disruption to desmosomes, actin cytoskeleton, PI3K/AKT/mTOR and p38 stress kinase signalling pathways. Notably, these pathways were also disrupted in patient samples that overexpress MASTL. In MCF10A cells, these alterations corresponded with a loss of contact inhibition and partial epithelial–mesenchymal transition, which disrupted migration and allowed cells to proliferate uncontrollably in 3D culture. Furthermore, MASTL overexpression increased aberrant mitotic divisions resulting in increased micronuclei formation. Mathematical modelling indicated that this delay was due to continued inhibition of PP2A-B55, which delayed timely mitotic exit. This corresponded with an increase in DNA damage and delayed transit through interphase. There were no significant alterations to replication kinetics upon MASTL overexpression, however, inhibition of p38 kinase rescued the interphase delay, suggesting the delay was a G2 DNA damage checkpoint response. Importantly, knockdown of MASTL, reduced cell proliferation, prevented invasion and metastasis of MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cells both in vitro and in vivo, indicating the potential of future therapies that target MASTL. Taken together, these results suggest that MASTL overexpression contributes to chromosome instability and metastasis, thereby decreasing breast cancer patient survival.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4518-4533
Number of pages16
Issue number33
Publication statusPublished - 16 Aug 2018
Externally publishedYes

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