Antigen receptor-dependent (AgR-dependent) stimulation of the NF-κB transcription factor in lymphocytes is a required event during adaptive immune response, but dysregulated activation of this signaling pathway can lead to lymphoma.
AgR stimulation promotes assembly of the CARMA1-BCL10-MALT1 complex, wherein MALT1 acts as (a) a scaffold to recruit components of the canonical NF-κB machinery, and (b) a protease to cleave and inactivate specific substrates, including negative regulators of NF-κB. In multiple lymphoma subtypes, malignant B cells hijack AgR signaling pathways to promote their own growth and survival, and inhibiting MALT1 reduces the viability and growth of these tumors.
As such, MALT1 has emerged as a potential pharmaceutical target. Here, we identified G protein-coupled receptor kinase 2 (GRK2) as a new MALT1-interacting protein. We demonstrated that GRK2 binds the death domain of MALT1 and inhibits MALT1 scaffolding and proteolytic activities. We found that lower GRK2 levels in activated B cell-type diffuse large B cell lymphoma (ABC-DLBCL) are associated with reduced survival, and that GRK2 knockdown enhances ABC-DLBCL tumor growth in vitro and in vivo.
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Together, our findings suggest that GRK2 can function as a tumor suppressor by inhibiting MALT1 and provide a roadmap for developing new strategies to inhibit MALT1-dependent lymphomagenesis.