Src kinase phosphorylates RUNX3 at tyrosine residues and localizes the protein in the cytoplasm.
RUNX3 is a transcription factor that functions as a tumor suppressor. In some cancers, RUNX3 expression is down-regulated, usually due to promoter hypermethylation. Recently, it was found that RUNX3 can also be inactivated by the mislocalization of the protein in the cytoplasm. The molecular mechanisms controlling this mislocalization are poorly understood. In this study, we found that the overexpression of Src results in the tyrosine phosphorylation and cytoplasmic localization of RUNX3. We also found that the tyrosine residues of endogenous RUNX3 are phosphorylated and that the protein is localized in the cytoplasm in Src-activated cancer cell lines. We further showed that the knockdown of Src by small interfering RNA, or the inhibition of Src kinase activity by a chemical inhibitor, causes the re-localization of RUNX3 to the nucleus. Collectively, our results demonstrate that the tyrosine phosphorylation of RUNX3 by activated Src is associated with the cytoplasmic localization of RUNX3 in gastric and breast cancers.