The Ras/Raf/MEK/extracellular signal-regulated kinase pathway induces autocrine-paracrine growth inhibition via the leukemia inhibitory factor/JAK/STAT pathway

Jong-In Park, Christopher J Strock, Douglas W Ball, Barry D Nelkin
Molecular and Cellular Biology 2003, 23 (2): 543-54
Sustained activation of the Ras/Raf/MEK/extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) pathway can lead to cell cycle arrest in many cell types. We have found, with human medullary thyroid cancer (MTC) cells, that activated Ras or c-Raf-1 can induce growth arrest by producing and secreting an autocrine-paracrine factor. This protein was purified from cell culture medium conditioned by Raf-activated MTC cells and was identified by mass spectrometry as leukemia inhibitory factor (LIF). LIF expression upon Raf activation and subsequent activation of JAK-STAT3 was also observed in small cell lung carcinoma cells, suggesting that this autocrine-paracrine signaling may be a common response to Ras/Raf activation. LIF was sufficient to induce growth arrest and differentiation of MTC cells. This effect was mediated through the gp130/JAK/STAT3 pathway, since anti-gp130 blocking antibody or dominant-negative STAT3 blocked the effects of LIF. Thus, LIF expression provides a novel mechanism allowing Ras/Raf signaling to activate the JAK-STAT3 pathway. In addition to this cell-extrinsic growth inhibitory pathway, we find that the Ras/Raf/MEK/ERK pathway induces an intracellular growth inhibitory signal, independent of the LIF/JAK/STAT3 pathway. Therefore, activation of the Ras/Raf/MEK/ERK pathway can lead to growth arrest and differentiation via at least two different signaling pathways. This use of multiple pathways may be important for "fail-safe" induction and maintenance of cell cycle arrest.

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