Membrane hyaluronidase Hyal-2 supports cancer cell growth. Inhibition of Hyal-2 by specific antibody against Hyal-2 or pY216-Hyal-2 leads to cancer growth suppression and prevention in vivo. By immunoelectron microscopy, tumor suppressor WWOX is shown to be anchored, in part, in the cell membrane by Hyal-2. Alternatively, WWOX undergoes self-polymerization and localizes in the cell membrane. Proapoptotic pY33-WWOX binds Hyal-2, and TGF-β induces internalization of the pY33-WWOX/Hyal-2 complex to the nucleus for causing cell death. In contrast, when pY33 is downregulated and pS14 upregulated in WWOX, pS14-WWOX supports cancer growth in vivo. Here, we investigated whether membrane WWOX receives extracellular signals via surface-exposed epitopes, especially at the S14 area, that signals for cancer growth suppression and prevention. By using a simulated 3-dimentional structure and generated specific antibodies, WWOX epitopes were determined at amino acid #7 to 21 and #286 to 299. Synthetic WWOX7-21 peptide, or truncation to 5-amino acid WWOX7-11, significantly suppressed and prevented the growth and metastasis of melanoma and skin cancer cells in mice. Time-lapse microscopy revealed that WWOX7-21 peptide potently enhanced the explosion and death of 4T1 breast cancer stem cell spheres by ceritinib. This is due to rapid upregulation of proapoptotic pY33-WWOX, downregulation of prosurvival pERK, prompt increases in Ca2+ influx, and disruption of the IkBα/WWOX/ERK prosurvival signaling. In contrast, pS14-WWOX7-21 peptide dramatically increased cancer growth in vivo and protected cancer cells from ceritinib-mediated apoptosis in vitro, due to a prolonged ERK phosphorylation. Further, specific antibody against pS14-WWOX significantly enhanced the ceritinib-induced apoptosis. Together, the N-terminal epitopes WWOX7-21 and WWOX7-11 are potent in blocking cancer growth in vivo. WWOX7-21 and WWOX7-11 peptides and pS14-WWOX antibody are of therapeutic values in suppressing and preventing cancer growth in vivo.
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