Myc antagonizes Ras-mediated growth arrest in leukemia cells through the inhibition of the Ras-ERK-p21Cip1 pathway

Jose P Vaqué, Joaquin Navascues, Yuzuru Shiio, Marikki Laiho, Nuria Ajenjo, Itsaso Mauleon, David Matallanas, Piero Crespo, Javier León
Journal of Biological Chemistry 2005 January 14, 280 (2): 1112-22
Even though RAS usually acts as a dominant transforming oncogene, in primary fibroblasts and some established cell lines Ras inhibits proliferation. This can explain the virtual absence of RAS mutations in some types of tumors, such as chronic myeloid leukemia (CML). We report that in the CML cell line K562 Ras induces p21Cip1 expression through the Raf-MEK-ERK pathway. Because K562 cells are deficient for p15INK4b, p16INK4a, p14ARF, and p53, this would be the main mechanism whereby Ras up-regulates p21 expression in these cells. Accordingly, we also found that Ras suppresses K562 growth by signaling through the Raf-ERK pathway. Because c-Myc and Ras cooperate in cell transformation and c-Myc is up-regulated in CML, we investigated the effect of c-Myc on Ras activity in K562 cells. c-Myc antagonized the induction of p21Cip1 mediated by oncogenic H-, K-, and N-Ras and by constitutively activated Raf and ERK2. Activation of the p21Cip1 promoter by Ras was dependent on Sp1/3 binding sites in K562. However, mutational analysis of the p21 promoter and the use of a Gal4-Sp1 chimeric protein strongly suggest that c-Myc affects Sp1 transcriptional activity but not the binding of Sp1 to the p21 promoter. c-Myc-mediated impairment of Ras activity on p21 expression required a transactivation domain, a DNA binding region, and a Max binding region. Moreover, the effect was independent of Miz1 binding to c-Myc. Consistent with its effect on p21Cip1 expression, c-Myc rescued cell growth inhibition induced by Ras. The data suggest that in particular tumor types, such as those associated with CML, c-Myc contributes to tumorigenesis by inhibiting Ras antiproliferative activity.

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