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Oncogene. 2002 Jul 11;21(30):4601-12.

p38 MAPK-mediated activation of NF-kappaB by the RhoGEF domain of Bcr.

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Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School, Newark, New Jersey, NJ 07103, USA.


The oncogenic fusion protein p210 Bcr-Abl is causally associated with virtually all cases of chronic myelogenous leukemia. The wild-type Bcr product has several recognizable structural and functional motifs including a domain that contains guanine nucleotide exchange activity for Rho family GTPases (DH/PH domain). Although this domain is retained within p210 Bcr-Abl, it has no known signaling activities in vivo. Here we report that a fragment of Bcr that encodes the isolated DH/PH domain is a potent activator of the NF-kappaB transcription factor. Within the context of full length Bcr, this activity is regulated by proximal flanking sequences that suppress the DH/PH domain encoded guanine nucleotide exchange activity. NF-kappaB activation by Bcr is not mediated by nuclear translocation, but rather by p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK)-dependent modification of the RelA/p65 transactivation domain. Although we were able to demonstrate that Bcr can function as an exchange factor for Cdc42 in vivo, NF-kappaB activation appears to occur via a Cdc42-independent mechanism. These studies constitute direct evidence that the Bcr RhoGEF domain can function in vivo, and identify a new signaling activity that may contribute to the transforming potential of p210 Bcr-Abl.

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