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Oncogene. 1999 Aug 26;18(34):4884-9.

Ras-GTPase activating protein inhibition specifically induces apoptosis of tumour cells.

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ExonHit Therapeutics, 65 Bld Massena, 75013 Paris, France.


Oncogenes and tumour suppressor genes control the balance between apoptotic death and anti-apoptotic survival signals determining whether a cell proliferates or dies. Through which effectors might oncoproteins generate sensitivity to apoptosis remains to be determined. Ras GTPase activating protein (Ras-GAP) is a key element in the Ras signalling pathway, being both a negative regulator and possibly an effector of Ras. Ras-GAP acts as a regulator of transcription, and possibly connects Ras to stress-activated protein kinases. A role for Ras-GAP in cell survival has been suspected from the study of knock-out mouse embryos. In search for selective killing of tumour cells, we asked whether Ras-GAP inhibition by other means would lead to apoptosis in established cell lines. We injected a monoclonal antibody directed against the SH3 domain of Ras-GAP (mAb200) that has been shown to block Ras-GAP downstream signalling into various human normal and tumour cell lines. We show that inhibition of Ras-GAP induces apoptosis specifically in tumour, but not in normal cells, therefore pointing at a specific role for Ras-GAP in tumour cell survival. MAb200-induced apoptosis is largely prevented by coinjection of activated RhoA or Cdc42 proteins, by injection of a constitutively activated mutant of phosphoinositide 3-OH kinase (PI3-K), but not by injection of v-Raf. These results show that targeting of Ras-GAP could represent a novel anticancer approach.

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