Research ArticleCancer

PLC-γ and PI3K Link Cytokines to ERK Activation in Hematopoietic Cells with Normal and Oncogenic Kras

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Sci. Signal.  03 Dec 2013:
Vol. 6, Issue 304, pp. ra105
DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.2004125

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Oncogenic K-Ras proteins, such as K-RasG12D, accumulate in the active, guanosine triphosphate (GTP)–bound conformation and stimulate signaling through effector kinases. The presence of the K-RasG12D oncoprotein at a similar abundance to that of endogenous wild-type K-Ras results in only minimal phosphorylation and activation of the canonical Raf–mitogen-activated or extracellular signal–regulated protein kinase kinase (MEK)–extracellular signal–regulated kinase (ERK) and phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K)–Akt–mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) signaling cascades in primary hematopoietic cells, and these pathways remain dependent on growth factors for efficient activation. We showed that phospholipase C–γ (PLC-γ), PI3K, and their generated second messengers link activated cytokine receptors to Ras and ERK signaling in differentiated bone marrow cells and in a cell population enriched for leukemia stem cells. Cells expressing endogenous oncogenic K-RasG12D remained dependent on the second messenger diacylglycerol for the efficient activation of Ras-ERK signaling. These data raise the unexpected possibility of therapeutically targeting proteins that function upstream of oncogenic Ras in cancer.

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