PLEXIN-A2 ENABLES THE PROLIFERATION AND THE DEVELOPMENT OF TUMORS FROM GLIOBLASTOMA DERIVED CELLS

The semaphorin guidance factors receptor plexin-A2 transduces sema6A and sema6B signals and may mediate, along with plexin-A4, the anti-angiogenic effects of sema6A. When associated with neuropilins plexin-A2 also transduces the anti-angiogenic signals of sema3B. Here we show that inhibition of plexin-A2 expression in glioblastoma derived cells that express wild type p53 such as U87MG and A172 cells, or in primary human endothelial cells, strongly inhibits cell proliferation. Inhibition of plexin-A2 expression in U87MG cells also results in strong inhibition of their tumor forming ability. Knock-out of the plexin-A2 gene in U87MG cells using CRISPR/Cas9 inhibits cell proliferation which is rescued following plexin-A2 re-expression, or expression of a truncated plexin-A2 lacking its extracellular domain. Inhibition of plexin-A2 expression results in cell cycle arrest at the G2/M stage, and is accompanied by changes in cytoskeletal organization, cell flattening, and enhanced expression of senescence associated β-galactosidase. It is also associated with reduced AKT phosphorylation and enhanced phosphorylation of p38MAPK. We find that the pro-proliferative effects of plexin-A2 are mediated by FARP2 and FYN because mutations in the FARP2 binding domain or in the FYN phosphorylation sites of the plexin-A2 intracellular domain inhibit the rescue of cell proliferation upon expression of the mutated intracellular domain in the knock-out cells. Our results suggest that plexin-A2 may represent a novel target for the development of anti-tumorigenic therapeutics.