TRIB2 confers resistance to anti-cancer therapy by activating the serine/threonine protein kinase AKT
Intrinsic and acquired resistance to chemotherapy is the fundamental reason for treatment failure for many cancer patients. The identification of molecular mechanisms involved in drug resistance or sensitization is imperative. Here we report that tribbles homologue 2 (TRIB2) ablates forkhead box O activation and disrupts the p53/MDM2 regulatory axis, conferring resistance to various chemotherapeutics. TRIB2 suppression is exerted via direct interaction with AKT a key signalling protein in cell proliferation, survival and metabolism pathways. Ectopic or intrinsic high expression of TRIB2 induces drug resistance by promoting phospho-AKT (at Ser473) via its COP1 domain. TRIB2 expression is significantly increased in tumour tissues from patients correlating with an increased phosphorylation of AKT, FOXO3a, MDM2 and an impaired therapeutic response. This culminates in an extremely poor clinical outcome. Our study reveals a novel regulatory mechanism underlying drug resistance and suggests that TRIB2 functions as a regulatory component of the PI3K network, activating AKT in cancer cells.