Metastasis of lung adenocarcinoma (LUAD) is a major cause of death in patients. Aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AHR), an important transcription factor, is involved in the initiation and progression of lung cancer. Polo-like kinase 1 (PLK1), a serine/threonine kinase, acts as an oncogene promoting the malignancy of multiple cancer types. However, the interaction between these two factors and their significance in lung cancer remain to be determined. In this study, we demonstrate that PLK1 phosphorylates AHR at S489 in LUAD, leading to epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) and metastatic events. RNA-seq analyses reveal that type 2 deiodinase (DIO2) is responsible for EMT and enhanced metastatic potential. DIO2 converts tetraiodothyronine (T4) to triiodothyronine (T3), activating thyroid hormone (TH) signaling. In vitro and in vivo experiments demonstrate that treatment with T3 or T4 promotes the metastasis of LUAD, whereas depletion of DIO2 or a deiodinase inhibitor disrupts this property. Taking together, our results identify the AHR phosphorylation by PLK1 and subsequent activation of DIO2-TH signaling as mechanisms leading to LUAD metastasis. These findings can inform possible therapeutic interventions for this event.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere1011017
JournalPLoS Genetics
Issue number11 November
StatePublished - Nov 21 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright: © 2023 Li et al.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Genetics(clinical)
  • Cancer Research


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