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Oncogene. 1999 Jul 22;18(29):4224-36.

Gas6-mediated survival in NIH3T3 cells activates stress signalling cascade and is independent of Ras.

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L.N.C.I.B. Laboratorio Nazionale Consorzio Interuniversitario Biotecnologie AREA Science Park, Trieste, Italy.


Gas6 is a growth factor membrane of the vitamin K-dependent family of proteins which is preferentially expressed in quiescent cells. Gas6 was identified as the ligand for Axl tyrosine kinase receptor family. Consistent with this, Gas6 was previously reported to induce cell cycle re-entry of serum-starved NIH3T3 cells and to prevent cell death after complete growth factor withdrawal, the survival effect being uncoupled from Gas6-induced mitogenesis. We have previously demonstrated that both Gas6 mitogenic and survival effects are mediated by Src and the phosphatidylinositol3-OH kinase (PI3K). Here we report that Ras is required for Gas6 mitogenesis but is dispensable for its survival effect. Gas6-induced survival requires the activity of the small GTPases of the Rho family, Rac and Rho, together with the downstream kinase Pak. Overexpression of the respective dominant negative constructs abrogates Gas6-mediated survival functions. Addition of Gas6 to serum starved cells results in the activation of AKT/PKB and in the phosphorylation of the Bcl-2 family member, Bad. By ectopic expression of a catalytically inactive form of AKT/PKB, we demonstrate that AKT/PKB is necessary for Gas6-mediated survival functions. We further show evidence that Gas6 stimulation of serum starved NIH3T3 cells results in a transient ERK, JNK/SAPK and p38 MAPK activation. Blocking ERK activation did not influence Gas6-induced survival, suggesting that such pathway is not involved in Gas6 protection from cell death. On the contrary we found that the late constitutive increase of p38 MAPK activity associated with cell death was downregulated in Gas6-treated NIH3T3 cells thus suggesting that Gas6 might promote survival by interfering with this pathway. Taken together the evidence here provided identity elements involved in Gas6 signalling more specifically elucidating the pathway responsible for Gas6-induced cell survival under conditions that do not allow cell proliferation.

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