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Mutations in G protein β subunits promote transformation and kinase inhibitor resistance


Activating mutations in genes encoding G protein α (Gα) subunits occur in 4–5% of all human cancers1, but oncogenic alterations in Gβ subunits have not been defined. Here we demonstrate that recurrent mutations in the Gβ proteins GNB1 and GNB2 confer cytokine-independent growth and activate canonical G protein signaling. Multiple mutations in GNB1 affect the protein interface that binds Gα subunits as well as downstream effectors and disrupt Gα interactions with the Gβγ dimer. Different mutations in Gβ proteins clustered partly on the basis of lineage; for example, all 11 GNB1 K57 mutations were in myeloid neoplasms, and seven of eight GNB1 I80 mutations were in B cell neoplasms. Expression of patient-derived GNB1 variants in Cdkn2a-deficient mouse bone marrow followed by transplantation resulted in either myeloid or B cell malignancies. In vivo treatment with the dual PI3K-mTOR inhibitor BEZ235 suppressed GNB1-induced signaling and markedly increased survival. In several human tumors, mutations in the gene encoding GNB1 co-occurred with oncogenic kinase alterations, including the BCR-ABL fusion protein, the V617F substitution in JAK2 and the V600K substitution in BRAF. Coexpression of patient-derived GNB1 variants with these mutant kinases resulted in inhibitor resistance in each context. Thus, GNB1 and GNB2 alterations confer transformed and resistance phenotypes across a range of human tumors and may be targetable with inhibitors of G protein signaling.

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Figure 1: Recurrent GNB1 and GNB2 mutations confer cytokine-independent growth.
Figure 2: Mutant Gβ proteins lose interaction with Gα subunits and induce activation of PI3K-AKT-mTOR and MAPK pathways.
Figure 3: GNB1 mutants promote myeloid dendritic cell neoplasms in vivo.
Figure 4: GNB1 and GNB2 mutations confer resistance to kinase inhibitors.

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We thank T. Radimerski, T. Haferlach, L. Garraway, M. Walter and N. Wagle for contributing to the manuscript. We thank A. Hawkins and the Brigham and Women's Hospital Cytogenomics Core Facility for karyotyping. This research was supported by the Aplastic Anemia and MDS International Foundation (A.Y.), the Edwards P. Evans Foundation (A.Y.), the Max-Eder Program of the Deutsche Krebshilfe (#110659 to O.W.), the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (J.W.T.), US National Institutes of Health NCI (1R01CA183947 and 5R00CA151457 to J.W.T.), the V Foundation for Cancer Research (J.W.T.), Gabrielle's Angel Foundation for Cancer Research (J.W.T.), the Claudia Adams Barr Fund (A.Y. and D.M.W.), an American Cancer Society Research Scholar Grant (D.M.W.), a Stand Up To Cancer Innovative Research Grant (D.M.W.), and an American Society of Hematology Scholar Award (A.A.L.).

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Authors and Affiliations



A.Y., G.A., J.T., B.C., N.S., Y.Y., O.W., N.K., S.-C.W., S.S.K., H.L., T.T., A.L.C., K.G.E., J.C., N.J.-S. and A.A.L. designed and performed experiments. A.Y., G.A., J.T., B.C., K.G., S.J.T., S.J.R., J.W.T., J.A.M., D.M.W. and A.A.L. analyzed data. J.G., M.W.D., H.M., J.P.M., S.J. and B.L.E. provided essential reagents. A.Y., D.M.W. and A.A.L. wrote the paper.

Corresponding authors

Correspondence to David M Weinstock or Andrew A Lane.

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The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Supplementary information

Supplementary Text and Figures

Supplementary Figures 1–7 (PDF 78215 kb)

Supplementary Table 1

List of mutations in GNB1 and GNB2 (XLSX 16 kb)

Supplementary Table 2

Detected proteins from a band unique to the FLAG-GNB1 immuoprecipitation (XLSX 11 kb)

Supplementary Table 3

List of proteins from tandem affinity purification and mass spectrometry analysis (XLSX 28 kb)

Supplementary Table 4

List of proteins detected by phosphoproteomics analysis (XLSX 2508 kb)

Supplementary Table 5

List of phospho-sites with more than 1.5 times enrichment in TF1-GNB1 K89E cells compared to TF1 cells infected with an empty vector (XLSX 53 kb)

Supplementary Table 6

Drug screening of GNB1 K89E cells (XLSX 13 kb)

Supplementary Table 7

Assembled G protein downstream signaling pathway gene sets from MSigDB queried by GSEA in Figure 3 (XLSX 599 kb)

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Yoda, A., Adelmant, G., Tamburini, J. et al. Mutations in G protein β subunits promote transformation and kinase inhibitor resistance. Nat Med 21, 71–75 (2015).

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