The WASF3-NCKAP1-CYFIP1 complex is essential for breast cancer metastasis

Yong Teng, Haiyan Qin, Abdulaziz Bahassan, N. George Bendzunas, Eileen J. Kennedy, John K. Cowell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


Inactivation of the WASF3 gene suppresses invasion and metastasis of breast cancer cells. WASF3 function is regulated through a protein complex that includes the NCKAP1 and CYFIP1 proteins. Here, we report that silencing NCKAP1 destabilizes the WASF3 complex, resulting in a suppression of the invasive capacity of breast, prostate, and colon cancer cells. In an in vivo model of spontaneous metastasis in immunocompromized mice, loss of NCKAP1 also suppresses metastasis. Activation of the WASF protein complex occurs through interaction with RAC1, and inactivation of NCKAP1 prevents the association of RAC1 with the WASF3 complex. Thus, WASF3 depends on NCKAP1 to promote invasion and metastasis. Here, we show that stapled peptides targeting the interface between NCKAP1 and CYFIP1 destabilize the WASF3 complex and suppress RAC1 binding, thereby suppressing invasion. Using a complex-disrupting compound identified in this study termed WANT3, our results offer a mechanistic proof of concept to target this interaction as a novel approach to inhibit breast cancer metastasis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5133-5142
Number of pages10
JournalCancer Research
Issue number17
StatePublished - Sep 1 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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