GKAP Acts as a Genetic Modulator of NMDAR Signaling to Govern Invasive Tumor Growth

Leanne Li, Qiqun Zeng, Arjun Bhutkar, José A. Galván, Eva Karamitopoulou, Daan Noordermeer, Mei Wen Peng, Alessandra Piersigilli, Aurel Perren, Inti Zlobec, Hugh Robinson, M. Luisa Iruela-Arispe, Douglas Hanahan*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Genetic linkage analysis previously suggested that GKAP, a scaffold protein of the N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor (NMDAR), was a potential modifier of invasion in a mouse model of pancreatic neuroendocrine tumor (PanNET). Here, we establish that GKAP governs invasive growth and treatment response to NMDAR inhibitors of PanNET via its pivotal role in regulating NMDAR pathway activity. Combining genetic knockdown of GKAP and pharmacological inhibition of NMDAR, we implicate as downstream effectors FMRP and HSF1, which along with GKAP demonstrably support invasiveness of PanNET and pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma cancer cells. Furthermore, we distilled genome-wide expression profiles orchestrated by the NMDAR-GKAP signaling axis, identifying transcriptome signatures in tumors with low/inhibited NMDAR activity that significantly associate with favorable patient prognosis in several cancer types. Li et al. show that GKAP, a scaffold protein of NMDAR, and its downstream effectors FMRP and HSF1 play important roles in the invasive growth of pancreatic tumors. In several cancer types, low NMDAR activity, based on a transcriptomic signature, associates with favorable patient prognosis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)736-751.e5
JournalCancer Cell
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 9 2018


  • FMRP
  • GKAP/Dlgap1
  • GluN2b/NR2b/Grin2b
  • HSF1
  • MK801
  • RIP1Tag2
  • cancer modifier
  • glutamate receptor
  • memantine
  • pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cell Biology
  • Cancer Research

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'GKAP Acts as a Genetic Modulator of NMDAR Signaling to Govern Invasive Tumor Growth'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this