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Sef downregulation by Ras causes MEK1/2 to become aberrantly nuclear localized leading to polyploidy and neoplastic transformation.

Duhamel S, Hébert J, Gaboury L, Bouchard A, Simon R, Sauter G, Basik M, Meloche S

Program of Molecular Biology, Institut de Recherche en Immunologie et Cancérologie, Université de Montréal, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

Subcellular trafficking of key oncogenic signal pathway components is likely to be crucial for neoplastic transformation, but little is known about how such trafficking processes are spatially controlled. In this study, we show how Ras activation causes aberrant nuclear localization of phosphorylated mitogen-activated protein (MAP)/extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK; MEK) MEK1/2 to drive neoplastic transformation. Phosphorylated MEK1/2 was aberrantly located within the nucleus of primary colorectal tumors and human colon cancer cells, and oncogenic activation of Ras was sufficient to induce nuclear accumulation of phosphorylated MEK1/2 and ERK1/2 in intestinal epithelial cells. Enforced nuclear localization of MEK1 in epithelial cells or fibroblasts was sufficient for hyperactivation of ERK1/2, thereby driving cell proliferation, chromosomal polyploidy, and tumorigenesis. Notably, Ras-induced nuclear accumulation of activated MEK1/2 was reliant on downregulation of the spatial regulator Sef, the reexpression of which was sufficient to restore normal MEK1/2 localization and a reversal of Ras-induced proliferation and tumorigenesis. Taken together, our findings indicate that Ras-induced downregulation of Sef is an early oncogenic event that contributes to genetic instability and tumor progression by sustaining nuclear ERK1/2 signaling.

Cancer Res. 2012;72(3):626-35.

Pubmed ID: 22298595

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