Although Rafs play a central role in signal transduction, the mechanism(s) by which they become activated is poorly understood. Raf-1 activation is dependent on the protein's ability to bind Ras, but Ras binding is insufficient to activate Raf-1 tyrosine phosphorylation to this Ras-induced activation, in the absence of an over-expressed tyrosine kinase. We demonstrate that Raf-1 purified form Sf9 cells coinfected with baculovirus Ras but not Src could be inactivated by protein tyrosine phosphatase PTP-1B. 14-3-3 and Hsp90 proteins blocked both the tyrosine dephosphorylation and inactivation of Raf-1, suggesting that Raf-1 activity is phosphotyrosine dependent. In Ras-transformed NIH 3T3 cells, a minority of Raf-1 protein was membrane associated, but essentially all Raf-1 activity and Raf-1 phosphotyrosine fractionated with plasma membranes. Thus, the tyrosine-phosphorylated and active pool of Raf-1 constitute a membrane-localized subfraction which could also be inactivated with PTP-1B. By contrast, B-Raf has aspartic acid residues at positions homologous to those of the phosphorylated tyrosines (at 340 and 341) of Raf-1 and displays a high basal level of activity. B-Raf was not detectably tyrosine phosphorylated, membrane localized, or further activated upon Ras transformation, even though B-Raf has been shown to bind to Ras in vitro. We conclude that tyrosine phosphorylation is an essential component of the mechanism by which Ras activates Raf-1 kinase activity and that steady-state activated Ras is insufficient to activate B-Raf in vivo.
Gastrointestinal carcinoid tumors are highly metastatic. Activation of the Raf-1 signaling pathway in carcinoid cells results in morphology changes. These Raf-1-induced structural changes may affect cellular adhesion, thereby altering metastatic potential.
An estrogen-inducible Raf-1 cell line (BON-raf) was used to study the effects of Raf-1 on cellular adhesion. Cell adhesion was measured before and after Raf-1 induction. Western blot analysis was used to confirm Raf-1 activation and measure levels of an essential adhesion regulator, β-catenin.
Estrogen treatment of BON-raf cells resulted in Raf-1 activation and a marked reduction (68%) in cell adhesion. In the absence of Raf-1 induction, carcinoid cells expressed high levels of β-catenin. Raf-1 activation led to decreased expression of β-catenin.
Raf-1 induction in carcinoid cells results in a significant decrease in adhesion. Furthermore, the important adhesion regulator β-catenin is reduced in activated BON-raf cells. These Raf-1-related changes in adhesion may alter the metastatic phenotype of carcinoid cells.
Neuroendocrine tumors; Carcinoid tumors; Raf-1 signaling; β-catenin; Adhesion; Metastasis
The Ras/Raf/MEK/ERK and PI3K/PTEN/Akt/mTOR cascades are often activated by genetic alterations in upstream signaling molecules such as receptor tyrosine kinases (RTK). Targeting these pathways is often complex and can result in pathway activation depending on the presence of upstream mutations (e.g., Raf inhibitors induce Raf activation in cells with wild type (WT) RAF in the presence of mutant, activated RAS) and rapamycin can induce Akt activation. Targeting with inhibitors directed at two constituents of the same pathway or two different signaling pathways may be a more effective approach. This review will first evaluate potential uses of Raf, MEK, PI3K, Akt and mTOR inhibitors that have been investigated in pre-clinical and clinical investigations and then discuss how cancers can become insensitive to various inhibitors and potential strategies to overcome this resistance.
Targeted Therapy; Therapy Resistance; Cancer Stem Cells; Raf; Akt; PI3K; mTOR
Multiple myeloma is characterized by increased bone marrow neovascularization driven in part by vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). In addition, the Ras/Raf/MEK/ERK pathway is critical for the proliferation of myeloma cells and is often upregulated. Sorafenib (Nexavar) is a novel multi-kinase inhibitor that acts predominantly through inhibition of Raf-kinase and VEGF receptor 2, offering the potential for targeting two important aspects of disease biology. In in vitro studies, sorafenib-induced cytotoxicity in MM cell lines as well as freshly isolated patient myeloma cells. It retained its activity against MM cells in co-culture with stromal cells or with interleukin-6, VEGF or IGF; conditions mimicking tumor microenvironment. Examination of cellular signaling pathways showed downregulation of Mcl1 as well as decreased phosphorylation of the STAT3 and MEK/ERK, as potential mechanisms of its anti-tumor effect. Sorafenib induces reciprocal upregulation of Akt phosphorylation; and simultaneous inhibition of downstream mTOR with rapamycin leads to synergistic effects. Sorafenib also synergizes with drugs such as proteasome inhibitors and steroids. In a human in vitro angiogenesis assay, sorafenib showed potent anti-angiogenic activity. Sorafenib, through multiple mechanisms exerts potent anti-myeloma activity and these results favor further clinical evaluation and development of novel sorafenib combinations.
vascular endothelial growth factor; myeloma; angiogenesis; proliferation; apoptosis; microenvironment
It is widely thought that the biological outcomes of Raf-1 activation are solely attributable to the activation of the MEK/extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) pathway. However, an increasing number of reports suggest that some Raf-1 functions are independent of this pathway. In this report we show that mutation of the amino-terminal 14-3-3 binding site of Raf-1 uncouples its ability to activate the MEK/ERK pathway from the induction of cell transformation and differentiation. In NIH 3T3 fibroblasts and COS-1 cells, mutation of serine 259 resulted in Raf-1 proteins which activated the MEK/ERK pathway as efficiently as v-Raf. However, in contrast to v-Raf, RafS259 mutants failed to transform. They induced morphological alterations and slightly accelerated proliferation in NIH 3T3 fibroblasts but were not tumorigenic in mice and behaved like wild-type Raf-1 in transformation assays measuring loss of contact inhibition or anchorage-independent growth. Curiously, the RafS259 mutants inhibited focus induction by an activated MEK allele, suggesting that they can hyperactivate negative-feedback pathways. In primary cultures of postmitotic chicken neuroretina cells, RafS259A was able to sustain proliferation to a level comparable to that sustained by the membrane-targeted transforming Raf-1 protein, RafCAAX. In contrast, RafS259A was only a poor inducer of neurite formation in PC12 cells in comparison to RafCAAX. Thus, RafS259 mutants genetically separate MEK/ERK activation from the ability of Raf-1 to induce transformation and differentiation. The results further suggest that RafS259 mutants inhibit signaling pathways required to promote these biological processes.
Ras, a small GTP-binding protein, is required for functional receptor tyrosine kinase signaling. Ultimately, Ras alters the activity of specific nuclear transcription factors and regulates novel patterns of gene expression. Using a rat prolactin promoter construct in transient transfection experiments, we show that both oncogenic Ras and activated forms of Raf-1 kinase selectively stimulated the cellular rat prolactin promoter in GH4 rat pituitary cells. We also show that the Ras signal is completely blocked by an expression vector encoding a dominant-negative Raf kinase. Additionally, using a molecular genetic approach, we determined that inhibitory forms of p42 mitogen-activated protein kinase and an Ets-2 transcription factor interfere with both the Ras and the Raf activation of the rat prolactin promoter. These findings define a functional requirement for these signaling constituents in the activation of the prolactin gene, a cell-specific gene which marks the lactotroph pituitary cell type. Further, this analysis allowed us to order the components in the Ras signaling pathway as it impinges on regulation of prolactin gene transcription as Ras-->Raf kinase-->mitogen-activated protein kinase-->Ets. In contrast, we show that intact c-Jun expression inhibited the Ras-induced activation of the prolactin promoter, defining it as a negative regulator of this pathway, whereas c-Jun was able to enhance the Ras activation of an AP-1-driven promoter in GH4 cells. These data show that c-Jun is not the nuclear mediator of the Ras signal for the highly specialized, pituitary cell-specific prolactin cellular promoter. Thus, we have defined a model system which provides an ideal paradigm for studying Ras/Raf signaling pathways and their effects on neuroendocrine cell-specific gene regulation.
The cytoplasmic Raf-1 kinase is essential for mitogenic signalling by growth factors, which couple to tyrosine kinases, and by tumor-promoting phorbol esters such as 12-O-tetradecanoylphorbol-13-acetate, which activate protein kinase C (PKC). Signalling by the Raf-1 kinase can be blocked by activation of the cyclic AMP (cAMP)-dependent protein kinase A (PKA). The molecular mechanism of this inhibition is not precisely known but has been suggested to involve attenuation of Raf-1 binding to Ras. Using purified proteins, we show that in addition to weakening the interaction of Raf-1 with Ras, PKA can inhibit Raf-1 function directly via phosphorylation of the Raf-1 kinase domain. Phosphorylation by PKA interferes with the activation of Raf-1 by either PKC alpha or the tyrosine kinase Lck and even can downregulate the kinase activity of Raf-1 previously activated by PKC alpha or amino-terminal truncation. This type of inhibition can be dissociated from the ability of Raf-1 to associate with Ras, since (i) the isolated Raf-1 kinase domain, which lacks the Ras binding domain, is still susceptible to inhibition by PKA, (ii) phosphorylation of Raf-1 by PKC alpha alleviates the PKA-induced reduction of Ras binding but does not prevent the downregulation of Raf-1 kinase activity by PKA and (iii) cAMP agonists antagonize transformation by v-Raf, which is Ras independent.
The Ras/Raf/MEK/ERK and PI3K/PTEN/Akt/mTOR cascades are often activated by genetic alterations in upstream signaling molecules such as receptor tyrosine kinases (RTK). Integral components of these pathways, Ras, B-Raf, PI3K, and PTEN are also activated/inactivated by mutations. These pathways have profound effects on proliferative, apoptotic and differentiation pathways. Dysregulation of these pathways can contribute to chemotherapeutic drug resistance, proliferation of cancer initiating cells (CICs) and premature aging. This review will evaluate more recently described potential uses of MEK, PI3K, Akt and mTOR inhibitors in the proliferation of malignant cells, suppression of CICs, cellular senescence and prevention of aging. Ras/Raf/MEK/ERK and Ras/PI3K/PTEN/Akt/mTOR pathways play key roles in the regulation of normal and malignant cell growth. Inhibitors targeting these pathways have many potential uses from suppression of cancer, proliferative diseases as well as aging.
Targeted Therapy; Combination Therapy; Drug Resistance; Cancer Stem Cells; Aging; Senescence; Raf; Akt; PI3K; mTOR
Increasing evidence points to a role of the mitogenic Ras/Raf/MEK/ERK signaling cascade in regulation of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) gene expression. Stimulation of elements of this pathway leads to transactivation of the HIV-1 promoter. In particular, the NF-κB motif in the HIV long terminal repeat (LTR) represents a Raf-responsive element in fibroblasts. Regulation of the Raf kinase in T cells differs from findings with a variety of cell lines that the catalytic domain of Raf (RafΔ26–303) shows no activity. In this study, we restored the activity of the kinase in T cells by fusing its catalytic domain to the CAAX motif (-Cx) of Ras, thus targeting the enzyme to the plasma membrane. Constitutive activity of Raf was demonstrated by phosphorylation of mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase (MEK) and endogenous mitogen-activated protein kinase 1/2 (ERK1/2) in A3.01 T cells transfected with RafΔ26–303-Cx. Membrane-targeted Raf also stimulates NF-κB, as judged by κB-dependent reporter assays and enhanced NF-κB p65 binding on band shift analysis. Moreover, we found that active Raf transactivates the HIVNL4-3 LTR in A3.01 T lymphocytes and that dominant negative Raf (C4) blocked 12-O-tetradecanoylphorbol-13-acetate induced transactivation. When cotransfected with infectious HIVNL4-3 DNA, membrane-targeted Raf induces viral replication up to 10-fold over basal levels, as determined by the release of newly synthesized p24gag protein. Our study clearly demonstrates that the activity of the catalytic domain of Raf in A3.01 T cells is dependent on its cellular localization. The functional consequences of active Raf in T lymphocytes include not only NF-κB activation and transactivation of the HIVNL4-3 LTR but also synthesis and release of HIV particles.
The role of Raf and MAPK (mitogen-activated protein kinase) during the maturation of Xenopus oocytes was investigated. Treatment of oocytes with progesterone resulted in a shift in the electrophoretic mobility of Raf at the onset of germinal vesicle breakdown (GVBD), which was coincident with the activation of MAPK. Expression of a kinase- defective mutant of the human Raf-1 protein (KD-RAF) inhibited progesterone-mediated MAPK activation. MAPK activation was also inhibited by KD-Raf in oocytes expressing signal transducers of the receptor tyrosine kinase (RTK) pathway, including an activated tyrosine kinase (Tpr-Met), a receptor tyrosine kinase (EGFr), and Ha-RasV12. KD- RAF completely inhibited GVBD induced by the RTK pathway. In contrast, KD-RAF did not inhibit GVBD and the progression to Meiosis II in progesterone-treated oocytes. Injection of Mos-specific antisense oligodeoxyribonucleotides inhibited MAPK activation in response to progesterone and Tpr-Met, but failed to inhibit these events in oocytes expressing an oncogenic deletion mutant of Raf-1 (delta N'Raf). Injection of antisense oligodeoxyribonucleotides to Mos also reduced the progesterone- and Tpr-Met-induced electrophoretic mobility shift of Xenopus Raf. These results demonstrate that RTKs and progesterone participate in distinct yet overlapping signaling pathways resulting in the activation of maturation or M-phase promoting factor (MPF). Maturation induced by the RTK pathway requires activation of Raf and MAPK, while progesterone-induced maturation does not. Furthermore, the activation of MAPK in oocytes appears to require the expression of Mos.
The serine/threonine kinase activity of the Raf-1 proto-oncogene product is stimulated by the activation of many tyrosine kinases, including growth factor receptors and pp60v-src. Recent studies of growth factor signal transduction pathways demonstrate that Raf-1 functions downstream of activated tyrosine kinases and p21ras and upstream of mitogen-activated protein kinase. However, coexpression of both activated tyrosine kinases and p21ras is required for maximal activation of Raf-1 in the baculovirus-Sf9 expression system. In this study, we investigated the role of tyrosine kinases and tyrosine phosphorylation in the regulation of Raf-1 activity. Using the baculovirus-Sf9 expression system, we identified Tyr-340 and Tyr-341 as the major tyrosine phosphorylation sites of Raf-1 when coexpressed with activated tyrosine kinases. Introduction of a negatively charged residue that may mimic the effect of phosphorylation at these sites activated the catalytic activity of Raf-1 and generated proteins that could transform BALB/3T3 cells and induce the meiotic maturation of Xenopus oocytes. In contrast, substitution of noncharged residues that were unable to be phosphorylated produced a protein that could not be enzymatically activated by tyrosine kinases and that could block the meiotic maturation of oocytes induced by components of the receptor tyrosine kinase pathway. These findings demonstrate that maturation of the tyrosine phosphorylation sites can dramatically alter the function of Raf-1. In addition, this is the first report that a transforming Raf-1 protein can be generated by a single amino acid substitution.
Medullary thyroid carcinoma (MTC) is highly metastatic. We have recently reported that activation of the Raf-1/MEK/ERK signaling pathway in MTC cells results in morphologic changes. We hypothesized that Raf-1--induced morphologic changes could be associated with alterations in cell--cell contact molecules, thereby affecting the metastatic potential of MTC cells.
An estradiol (E2)-inducible Raf-1 MTC cell line (TT-raf) was utilized in this study. Western blot analysis was used to confirm the Raf-1/MEK/ERK pathway activation and to measure levels of essential cell–cell contact molecules. Assays for cell adhesion and migration were performed to investigate the cell motility.
E2 treatment of TT-raf cells resulted in the Raf-1/MEK/ERK pathway activation as evidenced by increased levels of phospho-MEK1/2 and -ERK1/2. This resulted in significant reductions in levels of essential cell–cell contact molecules including E-cadherin, β-catenin, and occludin. Importantly, activation of the Raf-1/ MEK/ERK pathway and the associated decrease in essential cell–cell contact molecules dramatically inhibited the abilities of adhesion and migration in MTC cells. Furthermore, treatment of Raf-1–activated cells with U0126, a specific inhibitor of MEK, abrogated these Raf-1–induced effects indicating that the suppression of the metastatic phenotype in MTC cells is a MEK-dependent pathway.
These data suggest that the Raf-1/MEK/ERK pathway regulates essential cell--cell contact molecules and metastatic phenotype of MTC cells. Thus, these findings provide further insight into the key steps in the metastatic progression of MTC.
Here we investigate the role of the Raf-1 kinase in transformation by the v-abl oncogene. Raf-1 can activate a transforming signalling cascade comprising the consecutive activation of Mek and extracellular-signal-regulated kinases (Erks). In v-abl-transformed cells the endogenous Raf-1 protein was phosphorylated on tyrosine and displayed high constitutive kinase activity. The activities of the Erks were constitutively elevated in both v-raf- and v-abl-transformed cells. In both cell types the activities of Raf-1 and v-raf were almost completely suppressed after activation of the cyclic AMP-dependent kinase (protein kinase A [PKA]), whereas the v-abl kinase was not affected. Raf inhibition substantially diminished the activities of Erks in v-raf-transformed cells but not in v-abl-transformed cells, indicating that v-abl can activate Erks by a Raf-1-independent pathway. PKA activation induced apoptosis in v-abl-transformed cells while reverting v-raf transformation without severe cytopathic effects. Overexpression of Raf-1 in v-abl-transformed cells partially protected the cells from apoptosis induced by PKA activation. In contrast to PKA activators, a Mek inhibitor did not induce apoptosis. The diverse biological responses correlated with the status of c-myc gene expression. v-abl-transformed cells featured high constitutive levels of expression of c-myc, which were not reduced following PKA activation. Myc activation has been previously shown to be essential for transformation by oncogenic Abl proteins. Using estrogen-regulated c-myc and temperature-sensitive Raf-1 mutants, we found that Raf-1 activation could protect cells from c-myc-induced apoptosis. In conclusion, these results suggest (i) that Raf-1 participates in v-abl transformation via an Erk-independent pathway by providing a survival signal which complements c-myc in transformation, and (ii) that cAMP agonists might become useful for the treatment of malignancies where abl oncogenes are involved, such as chronic myeloid leukemias.
The mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathway comprises several key signaling components and phosphorylation events that play important role in tumorigenesis. These activated kinases transmit extracellular signals that regulate cell growth, differentiation, proliferation, apoptosis and migration functions. Alteration of the RAS-RAF-MEK-ERK-MAPK (RAS-MAPK) pathway has frequently been reported in human cancer as a result of abnormal activation of receptor tyrosine kinases or gain-of-function mutations mainly in the RAS or RAF genes. Accordingly, these pathways are considered a potential therapeutic target for cancer treatment. Recently, several small-molecule inhibitors targeting this pathway have been developed and are currently being tested in clinical trials.
This paper focuses on the biological role of the RAS-MAPK pathway, the consequence of its disregulation, and the development of small-molecule inhibitors. The rationale for targeting the RAS-MAPK pathway will be reviewed here along with a discussion of the application and the results of various inhibitory molecules as anticancer agents in clinical trials.
The RAS-MAPK pathway mediates cellular responses to growth signals and is often deregulated in human cancer. Activating mutations in the RAS and BRAF genes have been frequently identified in a wide range of cancers. Inhibitors of MEK and particularly of RAF kinases, have been effective in clinical trials with manageable side effects. RAS and BRAF genes need to be analyzed for mutations as markers of response to treatments and to avoid paradoxical effects. Further characterization of the RAS-MAPK molecular mechanisms regulation in malignant cells or underlying the acquired resistance to RAF inhibitors will facilitate development of novel combination therapies.
mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK); extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK); MAP kinase kinase (MEK); RAS; RAF; inhibitors; targeted therapies
Keratins 8 and 18 (K8/18) heteropolymers may regulate cell signaling via the known K18 association with 14-3-3 proteins and 14-3-3 association with Raf-1 kinase. We characterized Raf–keratin–14-3-3 associations and show that Raf associates directly with K8, independent of Raf kinase activity or Ras–Raf interaction, and that K18 is a Raf physiologic substrate. Raf activation during oxidative and toxin exposure in cultured cells and animals disrupt keratin–Raf association in a phosphorylation-dependent manner. Mutational analysis showed that 14-3-3 residues that are essential for Raf binding also regulate 14-3-3–keratin association. Similarly, Raf phosphorylation sites that are important for binding to 14-3-3 are also essential for Raf binding to K8/18. Therefore, keratins may modulate some aspects of Raf signaling under basal conditions via sequestration by K8, akin to Raf–14-3-3 binding. Keratin-bound Raf kinase is released upon Raf hyperphosphorylation and activation during oxidative and other stresses.
keratins; Raf-1 kinase; intermediate filaments; 14-3-3 proteins; cell stress
The serine/threonine kinase Raf-1 functions downstream of Rats in a signal transduction cascade which transmits mitogenic stimuli from the plasma membrane to the nucleus. Raf-1 integrates signals coming from extracellular factors and, in turn, activates its substrate, MEK kinase. MEK activates mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK), which phosphorylates other kinases as well as transcription factors. Raf-1 exists in a complex with HSP90 and other proteins. The benzoquinone ansamycin geldanamycin (GA) binds to HSP90 and disrupts the Raf-1-HSP90 multimolecular complex, leading to destabilization of Raf-1. In this study, we examined whether Raf-1 destabilization is sufficient to block the Raf-1-MEK-MAPK signalling pathway and whether GA specifically inactivates the Raf-1 component of this pathway. Using the model system of NIH 3T3 cells stimulated with phorbol 12-myristate 13-acetate (PMA), we show that GA does not affect the ability of protein kinase C alpha to be activated by phorbol esters, but it does block activation of MEK and MAPK. Further, GA does not decrease the activity of constitutively active MEK in transiently transfected cells. Finally, disruption of the Raf-1-MEK-MAPK signalling pathway by GA prevents both the PMA-induced proliferative response and PMA-induced activation of a MAPK-sensitive nuclear transcription factor. Thus, we demonstrate that interaction between HSP90 and Raf-1 is a sine qua non for Raf stability and function as a signal transducer and that the effects observed cannot be attributed to a general impairment of protein kinase function.
Raf-1 is a serine/threonine protein kinase that transduces signals from cell surface receptors to the nucleus. Interaction of Ras with a regulatory domain in the N-terminal half of Raf-1 is postulated to regulate Raf-1 protein kinase and signaling activities. To better understand molecular interactions of Ras with Raf-1 and regulation of the Raf-1 kinase, a panel of Raf-1 N-terminal mutants expressed in the baculovirus-insect cell system was used for mapping the precise region necessary for Ras interaction in the context of full-length, functional Raf-1 kinase. An 80-amino-acid sequence in Raf-1 between positions 53 and 132 was found to confer the ability to bind Ras protein in vitro and in infected insect cells. Deletion of residues 53 to 132 abolished Raf-1 kinase activation by Ras in insect cells, indicating that activation of the Raf-1 kinase by Ras requires the capacity to physically interact with Ras. By contrast, deletion of this Ras-binding site did not diminish activation of Raf-1 kinase by Src, implying that Src and Ras can activate Raf-1 through independent mechanisms. Significantly, Raf-1 mutants lacking the entire zinc finger motif or containing substitutions of two critical cysteine residues in the zinc finger retained the ability to bind Ras and to be activated by this interaction. Consistent with results obtained in the baculovirus-insect cell system, deletion of residues 53 to 132 but not mutations in the zinc finger motif abrogated the ability of kinase-inactive, dominant negative Raf-1 to block Ras-mediated signaling in Xenopus oocytes. Together, these results provide evidence that the direct physical interaction of Ras with Raf-1 amino acids 53 to 132 is required for activation of the Raf-1 kinase and signaling activities by Ras but not by Src. Furthermore, the adjacent zinc finger motif in Raf-1 is not essential either for interaction with Ras or for activation of the Raf-1 kinase.
RAF kinases are part of a conserved signaling pathway that impacts cell growth, differentiation, and survival, and RAF pathway dysregulation is an attractive target for therapeutic intervention. We describe two homogeneous fluorescent formats that distinguish RAF pathway inhibitors from direct RAF kinase inhibitors, using B-RAF, B-RAF V599E, and C-RAF. A Förster-resonance energy transfer (FRET) based method was used to develop RAF and MEK cascade assays as well as a direct ERK kinase assay. This method uses a peptide substrate, that is terminally labeled with a FRET-pair of fluorophores, and that is more sensitive to proteolysis relative to the phosphorylated peptide. A second time-resolved FRET-based assay using fluorescently labeled MEK substrate was used to detect direct inhibitors of RAF kinase activity. The cascade assays detect compounds that interact with activated and unactivated kinases within the recapitulated RAF pathway, and the direct assays isolate the point of action for an inhibitor.
Cascade assay; Direct Assay; C-RAF; B-RAF; B-RAF V599E; MEK1; ERK2; FRET; TR-FRET.
The Ras-Raf-MAPK cascade is a key growth-signaling pathway and its uncontrolled activation results in cell transformation. Although the general features of the signal transmission along the cascade are reasonably defined, the mechanisms underlying Raf activation remain incompletely understood. Here, we show that Raf-1 dephosphorylation, primarily at epidermal growth factor (EGF)-induced sites, abolishes Raf-1 kinase activity. Using mass spectrometry, we identified five novel in vivo Raf-1 phosphorylation sites, one of which, S471, is located in subdomain VIB of Raf-1 kinase domain. Mutational analyses demonstrated that Raf-1 S471 is critical for Raf-1 kinase activity and for its interaction with mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase (MEK). Similarly, mutation of the corresponding B-Raf site, S578, resulted in an inactive kinase, suggesting that the same Raf-1 and B-Raf phosphorylation is needed for Raf kinase activation. Importantly, the naturally occurring, cancer-associated B-Raf activating mutation V599E suppressed the S578A mutation, suggesting that introducing a charged residue at this region eliminates the need for an activating phosphorylation. Our results demonstrate an essential role of specific EGF-induced Raf-1 phosphorylation sites in Raf-1 activation, identify Raf-1 S471 as a novel phosphorylation site critical for Raf-1 and B-Raf kinase activities, and point to the possibility that the V599E mutation activates B-Raf by mimicking a phosphorylation at the S578 site.
The RAS/RAF/MEK/ERK pathway is involved in the balance between melanocyte proliferation and differentiation. The same pathway is constitutively activated in cutaneous and uveal melanoma (UM) and related to tumour growth and survival. Whereas mutant BRAF and NRAS are responsible for the activation of the RAS/RAF/MEK/ERK pathway in most cutaneous melanoma, mutations in these genes are usually absent in UM.
We set out to explore the RAS/RAF/MEK/ERK pathway and used mitogen-activated protein kinase profiling and tyrosine kinase arrays.
We identified Src as a kinase that is associated with ERK1/2 activation in UM. However, low Src levels and reduced ERK1/2 activation in metastatic cell lines suggest that proliferation in metastases can become independent of Src and RAS/RAF/MEK/ERK signalling. Inhibition of Src led to the growth reduction of primary UM cultures and cell lines, whereas metastatic cell line growth was only slightly reduced.
We identified Src as an important kinase and a potential target for treatment in primary UM. Metastasis cell lines seemed largely resistant to Src inhibition and indicate that in metastases treatment, a different approach may be required.
uveal melanoma; tyrosine kinase; ERK; Src
Chemotherapy, biological agents or combinations of both have had little impact on survival of patients with metastatic melanoma. Advances in understanding the genetic changes associated with the development of melanoma resulted in availability of promising new agents that inhibit specific proteins up-regulated in signal cell pathways or inhibit anti-apoptotic proteins. Sorafenib, a multikinase inhibitor of the RAF/RAS/MEK pathway, elesclomol (STA-4783) and oblimersen (G3139), an antisense oligonucleotide targeting anti-apoptotic BCl-2, are in phase III clinical studies in combination with chemotherapy. Agents targeting mutant B-Raf (RAF265 and PLX4032), MEK (PD0325901, AZD6244), heat-shock protein 90 (tanespimycin), mTOR (everolimus, deforolimus, temsirolimus) and VEGFR (axitinib) showed some promise in earlier stages of clinical development. Receptor tyrosine-kinase inhibitors (imatinib, dasatinib, sunitinib) may have a role in treatment of patients with melanoma harbouring c-Kit mutations. Although often studied as single agents with disappointing results, new targeted drugs should be more thoroughly evaluated in combination therapies. The future of rational use of new targeted agents also depends on successful application of analytical techniques enabling molecular profiling of patients and leading to selection of likely therapy responders.
B-Raf; c-Kit; inhibitor; melanoma; mTOR; multikinase
Mutations in the extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) pathway, particularly in the mitogen-activated protein kinase/ERK kinase (MEK) activator B-Raf, are associated with human tumorigenesis and genetic disorders. Hence, B-Raf is a prime target for molecule-based therapies, and understanding its essential biological functions is crucial for their success. B-Raf is expressed preferentially in cells of neuronal origin. Here, we show that in mice, conditional ablation of B-Raf in neuronal precursors leads to severe dysmyelination, defective oligodendrocyte differentiation, and reduced ERK activation in brain. Both B-Raf ablation and chemical inhibition of MEK impair oligodendrocyte differentiation in vitro. In glial cell cultures, we find B-Raf in a complex with MEK, Raf-1, and kinase suppressor of Ras. In B-Raf–deficient cells, more Raf-1 is recruited to MEK, yet MEK/ERK phosphorylation is impaired. These data define B-Raf as the rate-limiting MEK/ERK activator in oligodendrocyte differentiation and myelination and have implications for the design and use of Raf inhibitors.
Signaling networks promoting cell growth and proliferation are frequently deregulated in cancer. Tumors often are highly dependent on such signaling pathways and may become hypersensitive to downregulation of key components within these signaling cascades. The classical mitogenic cascade transmits stimuli from growth factor receptors via Ras, Raf, MEK and ERK to the cell nucleus and provides attractive molecular targets for cancer treatment. For example, Ras and Raf kinase inhibitors are already in a number of ongoing phase II and phase III clinical trials. In this study the effect of the Raf kinase inhibitor BAY 43-9006 and of the MEK inhibitor CI-1040 (PD184352) on a Raf dependent lung tumor mouse model was analyzed in detail.
We have generated a lung cancer mouse model by targeting constitutively active C-Raf kinase to the lung. These mice develop adenomas within 4 months of life. At this time-point they received daily intraperitoneal injections of either 100 mg/kg BAY 43-9006 or CI-1040 for additional 21 days. Thereafter, lungs were isolated and the following parameters were analyzed using histology and immunohistochemistry: overall lung structure, frequency of adenoma foci, proliferation rate, ERK activity, caspase-3 activation, and lung differentiation.
Both inhibitors were equally effective in vitro using a sensitive Raf/MEK/ERK ELISA. In vivo, the systemic administration of the MEK inhibitor CI-1040 reduced adenoma formation to a third and significantly restored lung structure. The proliferation rate of lung cells of mice treated with CL-1040 was decreased without any obvious effects on differentiation of pneumocytes. In contrast, the Raf inhibitor BAY 43-9006 did not influence adenoma formation in vivo.
The MEK inhibitor CI-1040 may be used for the treatment of Ras and/or Raf-dependent human malignancies.
Multiple myeloma (MM) is an incurable, B-cell malignancy, characterized by the clonal proliferation and accumulation of malignant plasma cells in bone marrow. Despite recent advances in understanding of genomic aberrations, a comprehensive catalogue of clinically actionable mutations in MM is just beginning to emerge. The tyrosine kinase (TK) and RAS oncogenes, which encode important regulators of various signaling pathways, are among the most frequently altered gene families in cancer. To clarify the role of TK and RAS genes in pathogenesis of MM, we performed a systematic, targeted screening of mutations on prioritized RAS and TK genes, in CD138 sorted bone marrow specimens from 42 untreated patients. We identified a total of 24 mutations in KRAS, PIK3CA, INSR, LTK and MERTK genes. In particular, seven novel mutations in addition to known KRAS mutations were observed. Prediction analysis tools, PolyPhen and SIFT were used to assess the functional significance of these novel mutations. Our analysis predicted that these mutations may have a deleterious effect, resulting in functional alteration of proteins involved in the pathogenesis of myeloma. While further investigation is needed to determine the functional consequences of these proteins, mutational testing of the RAS and TK genes in larger myeloma cohorts might be also useful to establish the recurrent nature of these mutations.
Multiple Myeloma; Tyrosine Kinase; RAS; Resequencing; Mutation analysis; Cancer
A-Raf belongs to the family of oncogenic Raf kinases that are involved in mitogenic signalling by activating the MEK-ERK pathway. Low kinase activity of A-Raf towards MEK suggested that A-Raf might have alternative functions. We show that A-Raf prevents cancer cell apoptosis contingent on the expression of the hnRNP H splice factor, which is required for the correct transcription and expression of A-Raf. A-Raf prevented apoptosis by sequestering and inactivating the pro-apoptotic MST2 kinase. Knock-down of hnRNP H or A-Raf resulted in MST2-dependent apoptosis, while enforced expression of either one partially counteracted apoptosis induced by etoposide. In vivo expression studies in colon specimens corroborated the over-expression of hnRNP H in malignant tissues and its correlation with A-Raf levels. In summary, we present a novel route that is usurped by tumor cells to escape naturally imposed apoptotic signals.
hnRNP H; apoptosis; A-Raf; splicing; MST2