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Cell Cycle. 2004 Apr;3(4):503-12. Epub 2004 Apr 1.

Ability of the activated PI3K/Akt oncoproteins to synergize with MEK1 and induce cell cycle progression and abrogate the cytokine-dependence of hematopoietic cells.

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Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Brody School of Medicine, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina 27858, USA.


Multiple signal transduction pathways, including the Raf/MEK/ERK and PI3K/Akt kinase cascades, play critical roles in transducing growth signals from activated cell surface receptors. Using conditionally and constitutively-active forms of MEK1 and either PI3K or Akt, we demonstrate synergy between these kinases in relieving cytokine-dependence of the FDC-P1 hematopoietic cell line. Cytokine-independent cells were obtained from DeltaMEK1:ER-infected cells at a frequency of 5 x 10(-5) indicating that low frequency of cells expressing beta-estradiol-regulated DeltaMEK1:ER became factor-independent, while activated PI3K or Akt by themselves did not relieve cytokine-dependence. In contrast, cytokine-independent cells were recovered approximately 25 to 250-fold more frequently from DeltaMEK1:ER infected cells also infected with either activated PI3K or Akt. MEK/PI3K and MEK/Akt-responsive cells could be maintained long-term as long as either beta-estradiol or the estrogen receptor antagonist 4-hydroxy-tamoxifen (4HT) were provided. The MEK/PI3K/Akt responsive cells were sensitive to both MEK and PI3K/Akt/p70S6K inhibitors. Synergy was observed when inhibitors which targeted both pathways were added together. These results indicate that there is synergy between the Raf/MEK/ERK and PI3K/Akt pathways in terms of abrogation of cytokine-dependence of hematopoietic cells. Likewise, suppression of multiple signal transduction pathways is a more effective means to inhibit cell cycle progression and induce apoptosis in leukemic cells.

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