Growth factors and mitogens use the Ras/Raf/MEK/ERK signaling cascade to transmit signals from their receptors to regulate gene expression and prevent apoptosis. Some components of these pathways are mutated or aberrantly expressed in human cancer (e.g., Ras, B-Raf). Mutations also occur at genes encoding upstream receptors (e.g., EGFR and Flt-3) and chimeric chromosomal translocations (e.g., BCR-ABL) which transmit their signals through these cascades. Even in the absence of obvious genetic mutations, this pathway has been reported to be activated in over 50% of acute myelogenous leukemia and acute lymphocytic leukemia and is also frequently activated in other cancer types (e.g., breast and prostate cancers). Importantly, this increased expression is associated with a poor prognosis. The Ras/Raf/MEK/ERK and Ras/PI3K/PTEN/Akt pathways interact with each other to regulate growth and in some cases tumorigenesis. For example, in some cells, PTEN mutation may contribute to suppression of the Raf/MEK/ERK cascade due to the ability of activated Akt to phosphorylate and inactivate different Rafs. Although both of these pathways are commonly thought to have anti-apoptotic and drug resistance effects on cells, they display different cell lineage specific effects. For example, Raf/MEK/ERK is usually associated with proliferation and drug resistance of hematopoietic cells, while activation of the Raf/MEK/ERK cascade is suppressed in some prostate cancer cell lines which have mutations at PTEN and express high levels of activated Akt. Furthermore the Ras/Raf/MEK/ERK and Ras/PI3K/PTEN/Akt pathways also interact with the p53 pathway. Some of these interactions can result in controlling the activity and subcellular localization of Bim, Bak, Bax, Puma and Noxa. Raf/MEK/ERK may promote cell cycle arrest in prostate cells and this may be regulated by p53 as restoration of wild-type p53 in p53 deficient prostate cancer cells results in their enhanced sensitivity to chemotherapeutic drugs and increased expression of Raf/MEK/ERK pathway. Thus in advanced prostate cancer, it may be advantageous to induce Raf/MEK/ERK expression to promote cell cycle arrest, while in hematopoietic cancers it may be beneficial to inhibit Raf/MEK/ERK induced proliferation and drug resistance. Thus the Raf/MEK/ERK pathway has different effects on growth, prevention of apoptosis, cell cycle arrest and induction of drug resistance in cells of various lineages which may be due to the presence of functional p53 and PTEN and the expression of lineage specific factors.
BCL-2 proteins are critical for cell survival and are overexpressed in many tumors. ABT-737 is a small-molecule BH3 mimetic that exhibits single-agent activity against lymphoma and small-cell lung cancer in preclinical studies. We here report that ABT-737 effectively kills acute myeloid leukemia blast, progenitor, and stem cells without affecting normal hematopoietic cells. ABT-737 induced the disruption of the BCL-2/BAX complex and BAK-dependent but BIM-independent activation of the intrinsic apoptotic pathway. In cells with phosphorylated BCL-2 or increased MCL-1, ABT-737 was inactive. Inhibition of BCL-2 phosphorylation and reduction of MCL-1 expression restored sensitivity to ABT-737. These data suggest that ABT-737 could be a highly effective antileukemia agent when the mechanisms of resistance identified here are considered.
An abundance of scientific literature exists demonstrating that oxidative stress influences the MAPK signaling pathways. This review summarizes these findings for the ERK, JNK, p38, and BMK1 pathways. For each of these different MAPK signaling pathways, the following is reviewed: the proteins involved in the signaling pathways, how oxidative stress can activate cellular signaling via these pathways, the types of oxidative stress that are known to induce activation of the different pathways, and the specific cell types in which oxidants induce MAPK responses. In addition, the functional outcome of oxidative stress-induced activation of these pathways is discussed. The purpose of this review is to provide the reader with an overall understanding and appreciation of oxidative stress-induced MAPK signaling.
Dysregulated signaling through the Ras/Raf/MEK/ERK and PI3K/PTEN/Akt/mTOR pathways is often the result of genetic alterations in critical components in these pathways or upstream activators. Unrestricted cellular proliferation and decreased sensitivity to apoptotic-inducing agents are typically associated with activation of these pro-survival pathways. This review discusses the functions these pathways have in normal and neoplastic tissue growth and how they contribute to resistance to apoptotic stimuli. Crosstalk and commonly identified mutations that occur within these pathways that contribute to abnormal activation and cancer growth will also be addressed. Finally the recently described roles of these pathways in cancer stem cells, cellular senescence and aging will be evaluated. Controlling the expression of these pathways could ameliorate human health.
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