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Oncogene. 1992 Feb;7(2):277-81.

Nerve growth factor induces rapid accumulation of the GTP-bound form of p21ras in rat pheochromocytoma PC12 cells.

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Division of Biochemistry and Cellular Biology, National Institute of Neuroscience, National Center of Neurology and Psychiatry, Tokyo, Japan.


The ras gene product (p21) is thought to transduce signals from various growth and differentiation factors. p21 is a GTP-binding protein, and its activity is regulated by the bound GDP/GTP ratio. We analysed p21-bound nucleotides in cell lysates of rat pheochromocytoma cell line PC12 cells stimulated with various factors. Nerve growth factors (NGF) rapidly increased the relative amount of active p21-GTP complex to as much as 20% of the total amount of p21 within 2 min. The amount of p21-GTP then declined to 8% after 10 min, and this level was sustained for at least 2 h. Epidermal growth factor (EGF) also stimulated a rapid accumulation of p21-GTP to the same extent as seen with NGF, but the amount of p21-GTP declined to 5% after 10 min and gradually returned to the basal level within 60 min. In contrast, basic fibroblast growth factor, interleukin 6 and dibutyryl cAMP, which induce neuronal differentiation of PC12 cells, did not stimulate the accumulation of p21-GTP at any time point examined. Phorbol 12-myristate 13-acetate also had no effect. Interestingly, the protein kinase inhibitor K-252a specifically suppressed the NGF-induced accumulation of p21-GTP, but did not suppress the EGF-induced response. These results strongly suggest that an active p21-GTP complex transduces the differentiation signal from NGF. It may also be suggested that the process of activating p21 is mediated by a K-252a-sensitive protein kinase(s).

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