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Curr Biol. 2002 Aug 20;12(16):1386-94.

Chemical genetic blockade of transformation reveals dependence on aberrant oncogenic signaling.

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Department of Neurology, University of California, San Francisco, CA 94143, USA.



Our understanding of protein kinase inhibition in the treatment of cancer is clearly limited by the lack of inhibitors that selectively block a single kinase implicated in neoplastic transformation. One approach to developing specific inhibitors is to engineer in protein kinases silent mutations that allow selective inhibition while retaining kinase activity. Because it is implicated in a large number of malignancies, EGFR provides an attractive target for such selective kinase inhibition.


We generated an inhibitor-sensitized allele of the transforming receptor tyrosine kinase v-erbB. Transformation of immortalized rodent fibroblasts by sensitized versions of v-erbB (v-erbB-as1) was blocked by 1-napthyl PP1 (NaPP1), a cell-permeable ATP-competitive inhibitor. NaPP1 also reversed morphological transformation by v-erbB-as1. Signaling through MAP kinase and PI(3) kinase was initially blocked by inhibitor treatment and then recovered to levels comparable to those in nontransformed cells. Surprisingly, NaPP1-treated v-erbB-as1 cells failed to re-enter the cell cycle, showed decreased levels of D- and A-type cyclins, and showed increased levels of p27. To extend this result, we showed that NaPP1 treatment of v-Src-as1 cells also led to cell cycle arrest. Arrested cells could be rescued with a conditional allele of Raf or by transduction of a constitutive allele of cyclin D1.


These data suggest that mammalian cells can become dependent on aberrant oncogenic signaling; this dependency renders them incapable of returning to a normal, proliferative phenotype.

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