Targeting the WASF3 complex to suppress metastasis

Ameya J. Limaye, Matthew K. Whittaker, George N. Bendzunas, John K. Cowell, Eileen J. Kennedy

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome protein family members (WASF) regulate the dynamics of the actin cytoskeleton, which plays an instrumental role in cancer metastasis and invasion. WASF1/2/3 forms a hetero-pentameric complex with CYFIP1/2, NCKAP1/1 L, Abi1/2/3 and BRK1 called the WASF Regulatory Complex (WRC), which cooperatively regulates actin nucleation by WASF1/2/3. Activation of the WRC enables actin networking and provides the mechanical force required for the formation of lamellipodia and invadopodia. Although the WRC drives cell motility essential for several routine physiological functions, its aberrant deployment is observed in cancer metastasis and invasion. WASF3 expression is correlated with metastatic potential in several cancers and inversely correlates with overall progression-free survival. Therefore, disruption of the WRC may serve as a novel strategy for targeting metastasis. Given the complexity involved in the formation of the WRC which is largely comprised of large protein-protein interfaces, there are currently no inhibitors for WASF3. However, several constrained peptide mimics of the various protein-protein interaction interfaces within the WRC were found to successfully disrupt WASF3-mediated migration and invasion. This review explores the role of the WASF3 WRC in driving metastasis and how it may be selectively targeted for suppression of metastasis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number106302
JournalPharmacological Research
StatePublished - Aug 2022


  • Metastasis
  • Stapled peptide
  • WASF Regulatory Complex
  • Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome protein family 3

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology


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