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The oncogenic phosphatase of regenerating liver 2 (PRL-2) has been shown to regulate intracellular magnesium levels by forming a complex through an extended amino acid loop present in the Bateman module of the CNNM3 magnesium transporter. Here we identified highly conserved residues located on this amino acid loop critical for the binding with PRL-2. A single point mutation (D426A) of one of those critical amino acids was found to completely disrupt PRL-2·human Cyclin M 3 (CNNM3) complex formation. Whole-cell voltage clamping revealed that expression of CNNM3 influenced the surface current, whereas overexpression of the binding mutant had no effect, indicating that the binding of PRL-2 to CNNM3 is important for the activity of the complex. Interestingly, overexpression of the CNNM3 D426A-binding mutant in cancer cells decreased their ability to proliferate under magnesium-deprived situations and under anchorage-independent growth conditions, demonstrating a PRL-2·CNNM3 complex-dependent oncogenic advantage in a more stringent environment. We further confirmed the importance of this complex in vivo using an orthotopic xenograft breast cancer model. Finally, because molecular modeling showed that the Asp-426 side chain in CNNM3 buries into the catalytic cavity of PRL-2, we showed that a PRL inhibitor could abrogate complex formation, resulting in a decrease in proliferation of human breast cancer cells. In summary, we provide evidence that this fundamental regulatory aspect of PRL-2 in cancer cells could potentially lead to broadly applicable and innovative therapeutic avenues.

Original publication




Journal article


J Biol Chem

Publication Date





10716 - 10725


Bateman module, CNNM3, PRL-2, cancer, cell proliferation, magnesium, patch clamp, phosphatase, thienopyridone, Animals, Breast Neoplasms, Cell Line, Tumor, Cell Proliferation, Conserved Sequence, Cyclins, Female, Humans, Mice, Mice, Nude, Models, Molecular, Mutant Proteins, Point Mutation, Protein Interaction Domains and Motifs, Protein Tyrosine Phosphatases, Pyridones, Tumor Stem Cell Assay, Xenograft Model Antitumor Assays