S-palmitoylation of PCSK9 induces sorafenib resistance in liver cancer by activating the PI3K/AKT pathway
Sorafenib is currently the first-line treatment for advanced hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). However, sorafenib resistance remains a significant challenge. Aberrant AKT signaling activation is a crucial mechanism driving sorafenib resistance in HCC. Proprotein convertase subtilisin/kexin type 9 (PCSK9) plays a vital role in antitumor immune responses. In this study, we demonstrate that aberrant PCSK9 upregulation promotes cell proliferation and sorafenib resistance in HCC by inducing AKT-S473 phosphorylation. After palmitoylation at cysteine 600, the binding affinity between PCSK9 and tensin homolog (PTEN) is dramatically increased, inducing lysosome-mediated PTEN degradation and subsequent AKT activation. We identify zinc finger DHHC-type palmitoyltransferase 16 (ZDHHC16) as a palmitoyltransferase that promotes PCSK9 palmitoylation at cysteine 600. We also develop a biologically active PCSK9-derived peptide that competitively inhibits PCSK9 palmitoylation, suppressing AKT phosphorylation and augmenting the antitumor effects of sorafenib in HCC.