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EMBO J. 2000 Jun 15;19(12):2900-10.

Ras mediates the cAMP-dependent activation of extracellular signal-regulated kinases (ERKs) in melanocytes.

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INSERM U385, Faculté de Médecine, Avenue de Valombrose, 06107 Nice Cédex 2, France. busca@unice. fr.


In melanocytes and melanoma cells, cAMP activates extracellular signal-regulated kinases (ERKs) and MEK-1 by an unknown mechanism. We demonstrate that B-Raf is activated by cAMP in melanocytes. A dominant-negative mutant of B-Raf, but not of Raf-1, blocked the cAMP-induced activation of ERK, indicating that B-Raf is the MEK-1 upstream regulator mediating this cAMP effect. Studies using Clostridium sordelii lethal toxin and Clostridium difficile toxin B have suggested that Rap-1 or Ras might transduce cAMP action. We show that Ras, but not Rap-1, is activated cell-specifically and mediates the cAMP-dependent activation of ERKs, while Rap-1 is not involved in this process in melanocytes. Our results suggest a novel, cell-specific mechanism involving Ras small GTPase and B-Raf kinase as mediators of ERK activation by cAMP. Also, in melanocytes, Ras or ERK activation by cAMP is not mediated through protein kinase A activation. Neither the Ras exchange factor, Son of sevenless (SOS), nor the cAMP-responsive Rap-1 exchange factor, Epac, participate in the cAMP-dependent activation of Ras. These findings suggest the existence of a melanocyte-specific Ras exchange factor directly regulated by cAMP.

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