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Essential Role of Cdc42 in Ras-Induced Transformation Revealed by Gene Targeting

By Kristy R. Stengel and Yi Zheng


The ras proto-oncogene is one of the most frequently mutated genes in human cancer. However, given the prevalence of activating mutations in Ras and its association with aggressive forms of cancer, attempts to therapeutically target aberrant Ras signaling have been largely disappointing. This lack of progress highlights the deficiency in our understanding of cellular pathways required for Ras-mediated tumorigenesis and suggests the importance of identifying new molecular pathways associated with Ras-driven malignancies. Cdc42 is a Ras-related small GTPase that is known to play roles in oncogenic processes such as cell growth, survival, invasion, and migration. A pan-dominant negative mutant overexpression approach to suppress Cdc42 and related pathways has previously shown a requirement for Cdc42 in Ras-induced anchorage-independent cell growth, however the lack of specificity of such approaches make it difficult to determine if effects are directly related to changes in Cdc42 activity or other Rho family members. Therefore, in order to directly and unambiguously address the role of Cdc42 in Ras-mediated transformation, tumor formation and maintenance, we have developed a model of conditional cdc42 gene in Ras-transformed cells. Loss of Cdc42 drastically alters the cell morphology and inhibits proliferation, cell cycle progression and tumorigenicity of Ras-transformed cells, while non-transformed cells or c-Myc transformed cells are largely unaffected. The loss of Cdc42 in Ras-transformed cells results in reduced Akt signaling, restoration of which could partially rescues the proliferation defects associated with Cdc42 loss. Moreover, disruption of Cdc42 function in established tumors inhibited continued tumor growth. These studies implicate Cdc42 in Ras-driven tumor growth and suggest that targeting Cdc42 is beneficial in Ras-mediated malignancies

Topics: Research Article
Publisher: Public Library of Science
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Provided by: PubMed Central

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