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1.  TGFβ-mediated suppression of CD248 in non-cancer cells via canonical Smad-dependent signaling pathways is uncoupled in cancer cells 
BMC Cancer  2014;14:113.
CD248 is a cell surface glycoprotein, highly expressed by stromal cells and fibroblasts of tumors and inflammatory lesions, but virtually undetectable in healthy adult tissues. CD248 promotes tumorigenesis, while lack of CD248 in mice confers resistance to tumor growth. Mechanisms by which CD248 is downregulated are poorly understood, hindering the development of anti-cancer therapies.
We sought to characterize the molecular mechanisms by which CD248 is downregulated by surveying its expression in different cells in response to cytokines and growth factors.
Only transforming growth factor (TGFβ) suppressed CD248 protein and mRNA levels in cultured fibroblasts and vascular smooth muscle cells in a concentration- and time-dependent manner. TGFβ transcriptionally downregulated CD248 by signaling through canonical Smad2/3-dependent pathways, but not via mitogen activated protein kinases p38 or ERK1/2. Notably, cancer associated fibroblasts (CAF) and cancer cells were resistant to TGFβ mediated suppression of CD248.
The findings indicate that decoupling of CD248 regulation by TGFβ may contribute to its tumor-promoting properties, and underline the importance of exploring the TGFβ-CD248 signaling pathway as a potential therapeutic target for early prevention of cancer and proliferative disorders.
PMCID: PMC3974058  PMID: 24555435
2.  Mechano-transduction and YAP-dependent matrix remodelling is required for the generation and maintenance of cancer associated fibroblasts 
Nature cell biology  2013;15(6):10.1038/ncb2756.
To learn more about cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs), we have isolated fibroblasts from different stages of breast cancer progression and analysed their function and gene expression. These analyses reveal that activation of the YAP transcription factor is a signature feature of CAFs. YAP function is required for CAFs to promote matrix stiffening, cancer cell invasion and angiogenesis. Remodelling of the ECM and promotion of cancer cell invasion requires the actomyosin cytoskeleton. YAP regulates the expression of several cytoskeletal regulators, including ANLN, and DIAPH3, and controls the protein levels of MYL9/MLC2. Matrix stiffening further enhances YAP activation, thus establishing a feed-forward self-reinforcing loop that helps to maintain the CAF phenotype. Actomyosin contractility and Src function are required for YAP activation by stiff matrices. Further, transient ROCK inhibition is able to disrupt the feed-forward loop leading to a long-lasting reversion of the CAF phenotype.
PMCID: PMC3836234  PMID: 23708000
3.  Ras and Rho GTPases on the move 
Bioarchitecture  2011;1(4):200-204.
Metastasis involves tumor cells moving through tissues and crossing tissue boundaries, which requires cell migration, remodeling of cell-to-cell contacts and interactions with the extracellular matrix. Individual tumor cells move in three-dimensional environments with either a rounded “ameboid” or an elongated “mesenchymal” morphology. These two modes of movement are tightly regulated by Rho family GTPases: elongated movement requires activation of Rac1, whereas rounded movement engages specific Cdc42 and Rho signaling pathways. It has been known for some time that events unfolding downstream of Ras GTPases are also involved in regulating multiple aspects of cell migration and invasion. More recently, RasGRF2—a Ras activator—has been identified as a suppressor of rounded movement, by inhibiting the activation of Cdc42, independently of its capacity to activate Ras. Here, we discuss how Rho and Ras signals can either cooperate or oppose each other in the regulation of cell migration and invasion.
PMCID: PMC3210519  PMID: 22069515
Ras GTPases; Rho GTPases; RasGRF; cell migration and invasion; metastasis
5.  ERK1/2 MAP kinases promote cell cycle entry by rapid, kinase-independent disruption of retinoblastoma–lamin A complexes 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2010;191(5):967-979.
When in the nucleus, ERK1/2 dislodges the retinoblastoma protein from lamin A, facilitating its rapid phosphorylation.
As orchestrators of essential cellular processes like proliferation, ERK1/2 mitogen-activated protein kinase signals impact on cell cycle regulation. A-type lamins are major constituents of the nuclear matrix that also control the cell cycle machinery by largely unknown mechanisms. In this paper, we disclose a functional liaison between ERK1/2 and lamin A whereby cell cycle progression is regulated. We demonstrate that lamin A serves as a mutually exclusive dock for ERK1/2 and the retinoblastoma (Rb) protein. Our results reveal that, immediately after their postactivation entrance in the nucleus, ERK1/2 dislodge Rb from its interaction with lamin A, thereby facilitating its rapid phosphorylation and consequently promoting E2F activation and cell cycle entry. Interestingly, these effects are independent of ERK1/2 kinase activity. We also show that cellular transformation and tumor cell proliferation are dependent on the balance between lamin A and nuclear ERK1/2 levels, which determines Rb accessibility for phosphorylation/inactivation.
PMCID: PMC2995174  PMID: 21115804
6.  Ras, an Actor on Many Stages 
Genes & Cancer  2011;2(3):182-194.
Among the wealth of information that we have gathered about Ras in the past decade, the introduction of the concept of space in the field has constituted a major revolution that has enabled many pieces of the Ras puzzle to fall into place. In the early days, it was believed that Ras functioned exclusively at the plasma membrane. Today, we know that within the plasma membrane, the 3 Ras isoforms—H-Ras, K-Ras, and N-Ras—occupy different microdomains and that these isoforms are also present and active in endomembranes. We have also discovered that Ras proteins are not statically associated with these localizations; instead, they traffic dynamically between compartments. And we have learned that at these localizations, Ras is under site-specific regulatory mechanisms, distinctively engaging effector pathways and switching on diverse genetic programs to generate different biological responses. All of these processes are possible in great part due to the posttranslational modifications whereby Ras proteins bind to membranes and to regulatory events such as phosphorylation and ubiquitination that Ras is subject to. As such, space and these control mechanisms act in conjunction to endow Ras signals with an enormous signal variability that makes possible its multiple biological roles. These data have established the concept that the Ras signal, instead of being one single, homogeneous entity, results from the integration of multiple, site-specified subsignals, and Ras has become a paradigm of how space can differentially shape signaling.
PMCID: PMC3128639  PMID: 21779492
Ras; GTPases; signal compartmentalization; acylation
7.  Structural and Spatial Determinants Regulating TC21 Activation by RasGRF Family Nucleotide Exchange Factors 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2009;20(20):4289-4302.
RasGRF family guanine nucleotide exchange factors (GEFs) promote guanosine diphosphate (GDP)/guanosine triphosphate (GTP) exchange on several Ras GTPases, including H-Ras and TC21. Although the mechanisms controlling RasGRF function as an H-Ras exchange factor are relatively well characterized, little is known about how TC21 activation is regulated. Here, we have studied the structural and spatial requirements involved in RasGRF 1/2 exchange activity on TC21. We show that RasGRF GEFs can activate TC21 in all of its sublocalizations except at the Golgi complex. We also demonstrate that TC21 susceptibility to activation by RasGRF GEFs depends on its posttranslational modifications: farnesylated TC21 can be activated by both RasGRF1 and RasGRF2, whereas geranylgeranylated TC21 is unresponsive to RasGRF2. Importantly, we show that RasGRF GEFs ability to catalyze exchange on farnesylated TC21 resides in its pleckstrin homology 1 domain, by a mechanism independent of localization and of its ability to associate to membranes. Finally, our data indicate that Cdc42-GDP can inhibit TC21 activation by RasGRF GEFs, demonstrating that Cdc42 negatively affects the functions of RasGRF GEFs irrespective of the GTPase being targeted.
PMCID: PMC2762140  PMID: 19692568
8.  Transcriptomal profiling of site-specific Ras signals 
Cellular signalling  2007;19(11):2264-2276.
Ras proteins are distributed in distinct plasma-membrane microdomains and endomembranes. The biochemical signals generated by Ras therein differ qualitatively and quantitatively, but the extent to which this spatial variability impacts on the genetic program switched-on by Ras is unknown. We have used microarray technology to identify the transcriptional targets of localization-specific Ras subsignals in NIH3T3 cells expressing H-RasV12 selectively tethered to distinct cellular microenvironments. We report that the transcriptomes resulting from site-specific Ras activation show a significant overlap. However, distinct genetic signatures can also be found for each of the Ras subsignals. Our analyses unveil 121 genes uniquely regulated by Ras signals emanating from plasma-membrane microdomains. Interestingly, not a single gene is specifically controlled by lipid raft-anchored Ras. Furthermore, only 9 genes are exclusive for Ras signals from endomembranes. Also, we have identified 31 genes common to the site-specific Ras subsignals capable of inducing cellular transformation. Among these are the genes coding for Vitamin D receptor and for p120-GAP and we have assessed their impact in Ras-induced transformation. Overall, this report reveals the complexity and variability of the different genetic programs orchestrated by Ras from its main sublocalizations.
PMCID: PMC2085357  PMID: 17714917
Ras; Compartmentalization; Gene microarrays; Transformation
9.  Distinct Utilization of Effectors and Biological Outcomes Resulting from Site-Specific Ras Activation: Ras Functions in Lipid Rafts and Golgi Complex Are Dispensable for Proliferation and Transformation 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2006;26(1):100-116.
Ras proteins are distributed in different types of plasma membrane microdomains and endomembranes. However, how microlocalization affects the signals generated by Ras and its subsequent biological outputs is largely unknown. We have approached this question by selectively targeting RasV12 to different cellular sublocalizations. We show here that compartmentalization dictates Ras utilization of effectors and the intensity of its signals. Activated Ras can evoke enhanced proliferation and transformation from most of its platforms, with the exception of the Golgi complex. Furthermore, signals that promote survival emanate primarily from the endoplasmic reticulum pool. In addition, we have investigated the need for the different pools of endogenous Ras in the conveyance of upstream mitogenic and transforming signals. Using targeted RasN17 inhibitory mutants and in physiological contexts such as H-Ras/N-Ras double knockout fibroblasts, we demonstrate that Ras functions at lipid rafts and at the Golgi complex are fully dispensable for proliferation and transformation.
PMCID: PMC1317613  PMID: 16354683
10.  Activation of H-Ras in the Endoplasmic Reticulum by the RasGRF Family Guanine Nucleotide Exchange Factors 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2004;24(4):1516-1530.
Recent findings indicate that in addition to its location in the peripheral plasma membrane, H-Ras is found in endomembranes like the endoplasmic reticulum and the Golgi complex. In these locations H-Ras is functional and can efficiently engage downstream effectors, but little is known about how its activation is regulated in these environments. Here we show that the RasGRF family exchange factors, both endogenous and ectopically expressed, are present in the endoplasmic reticulum but not in the Golgi complex. With the aid of H-Ras constructs specifically tethered to the plasma membrane, endoplasmic reticulum, and Golgi complex, we demonstrate that RasGRF1 and RasGRF2 can activate plasma membrane and reticular, but not Golgi-associated, H-Ras. We also show that RasGRF DH domain is required for the activation of H-Ras in the endoplasmic reticulum but not in the plasma membrane. Furthermore, we demonstrate that RasGRF mediation favors the activation of reticular H-Ras by lysophosphatidic acid treatment whereas plasma membrane H-Ras is made more responsive to stimulation by ionomycin. Overall, our results provide the initial insights into the regulation of H-Ras activation in the endoplasmic reticulum.
PMCID: PMC344182  PMID: 14749369

Results 1-10 (10)