Neurofibromas are the clinical hallmark of neurofibromatosis Type 1 (NF1), a genetic disorder caused by mutations of the NF1 tumor suppressor gene, which encodes neurofibromin that functions as a GTPase activating protein (GAP) for Ras. During pregnancy, up to 50% of existing neurofibromas enlarge and as many as 60% of new neurofibromas appear for the first time. Lysophosphatidic acid (LPA) is a prototypic lysophospholipid that modulates cell migration and survival of Schwann cells (SCs) and is made in increasing concentrations throughout pregnancy. We addressed the influence of LPA on the biochemical and cellular functions of SCs with a homozygous mutation of the murine homologue of the NF1 gene (Nf1-/-). LPA promoted F-actin polymerization and increased migration and survival of Nf1-/- SCs as compared to wild type (WT) SCs. Furthermore, LPA induced a higher level of Ras-GTP and Akt phosphorylation in Nf1-/- SCs as compared to WT cells. Pharmacologic inhibition or siRNA for the p85β regulatory subunit of Class I A PI3-K significantly reduced LPA-induced Schwann cell survival and migration. Introduction of NF1-GRD reconstitution was sufficient to normalize the LPA-mediated motility of Nf1-/- SCs. As LPA modulates excessive cell survival and motility of Nf1-/- SCs, which are the tumorigenic cells in NF1, targeting PI3-K may be a potential therapeutic approach in diminishing the development and progression of neurofibromas in pregnant women with NF1.
ASJC Scopus subject areas