Metastasis is the main cause of death in many cancers including colorectal cancer (CRC); however, the underlying mechanisms responsible for metastatic progression remain largely unknown. We found that nuclear TYRO3 receptor tyrosine kinase is a strong predictor of poor overall survival in patients with CRC. The metastasis-promoting function of nuclear TYRO3 requires its kinase activity and matrix metalloproteinase–2 (MMP-2)–mediated cleavage but is independent of ligand binding. Using proteomic analysis, we identified bromodomain-containing protein 3 (BRD3), an acetyl-lysine reading epigenetic regulator, as one of nuclear TYRO3’s substrates. Chromatin immunoprecipitation-sequencing data reveal that TYRO3-phosphorylated BRD3 regulates genes involved in anti-apoptosis and epithelial-mesenchymal transition. Inhibition of MMP-2 or BRD3 activity by selective inhibitors abrogates nuclear TYRO3-induced drug resistance and metastasis in organoid culture and in orthotopic mouse models. These data demonstrate that MMP-2/TYRO3/BRD3 axis promotes the metastasis of CRC, and blocking this signaling cascade is a promising approach to ameliorate CRC malignancy.
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