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Mol Cell. 2006 Feb 17;21(4):481-93.

PKC regulates a farnesyl-electrostatic switch on K-Ras that promotes its association with Bcl-XL on mitochondria and induces apoptosis.

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Department of Cell Biology, New York University School of Medicine, 550 First Avenue, New York, New York 10016, USA.


K-Ras associates with the plasma membrane (PM) through farnesylation that functions in conjunction with an adjacent polybasic sequence. We show that phosphorylation by protein kinase C (PKC) of S181 within the polybasic region promotes rapid dissociation of K-Ras from the PM and association with intracellular membranes, including the outer membrane of mitochondria where phospho-K-Ras interacts with Bcl-XL. PKC agonists promote apoptosis of cells transformed with oncogenic K-Ras in a S181-dependent manner. K-Ras with a phosphomimetic residue at position 181 induces apoptosis via a pathway that requires Bcl-XL. The PKC agonist bryostatin-1 inhibited the growth in vitro and in vivo of cells transformed with oncogenic K-Ras in a S181-dependent fashion. These data demonstrate that the location and function of K-Ras are regulated directly by PKC and suggest an approach to therapy of K-Ras-dependent tumors with agents that stimulate phosphorylation of S181.

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