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Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2002 Nov;973:145-8.

Activation of ERK, controlled by Rac1 and Cdc42 via Akt, is required for anoikis.

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Institut de Génétique Moléculaire, CNRS UMR5535, 1919 Route de Mende, F-34293 Montpellier Cedex 5, France.


We have recently reported that two Rho family GTPases, Rac1 and Cdc42, are intimately involved in the control of cell survival of murine fibroblasts linked to adherence to the extracellular matrix. Inhibition of either Rac1 or Cdc42 signaling in adherent cells mimics the loss of anchorage and efficiently induces apoptosis in both immortalized and primary cells. In both cases cell death is dependent on the wild-type p53 tumor suppressor and is accompanied by activation of endogenous p53. Here, we describe that the inhibition of Rac1 or Cdc42 signaling leads to MAPK ERK activation via a pathway involving PI(3)K, Akt, Raf, and MEK, but not Ras. The moderate level of ERK activation that accompanies anoikis is an essential component of proapoptotic signaling; whereas sustained, high-intensity ERK signaling promotes survival in the same experimental system.

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