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Cancer Biol Ther. 2005 Sep;4(9):961-7. Epub 2005 Sep 13.

RNA interference (RNAi) for extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1 (ERK1) alone is sufficient to suppress cell viability in ovarian cancer cells.

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Department of Pediatrics, Wells Center for Pediatric Research, Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis, Indiana, USA.


While ovarian cancer is a leading cause of death in females today, the molecular, genetic, and environmental factors that initiate and support the progression of this disease are still only partially understood. The extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) signaling pathway is a major contributor to cellular growth, differentiation and survival. Recently, we reported that this pathway is constitutively activated in ovarian cancer cells, and that by using RNA interference (RNAi) for ERK1 and ERK2, we were able to significantly suppress the number of viable tumor cells. In the present study, we have further investigated the mechanisms by which RNAi for the ERK kinases decreased viability in these cancer cells. It was determined that treatment of the cancer cells with small inhibitory RNAs (siRNAs) directed against ERK1 and ERK2 leads to the induction of apoptosis and necrosis by four hours following treatment. Additionally, we found that primary, nonmalignant ovarian cells do not respond similarly to ERK siRNA treatment and that these cells fail to die following treatment. Data presented show that ERK2 expression is more difficult to silence, depending upon cell type being examined and that silencing ERK1 expression alone is sufficient to significantly decrease tumor cell viability.

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