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Oncogene. 2012 Jul 12;31(28):3333-45. doi: 10.1038/onc.2011.499. Epub 2011 Nov 7.

A retinoic acid receptor RARα pool present in membrane lipid rafts forms complexes with G protein αQ to activate p38MAPK.

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Department of functional genomics and cancer, IGBMC (Institut de Génétique et de Biologie Moléculaire et Cellulaire), INSERM, U964, CNRS, UMR7104, Université de Strasbourg, Illkirch Cedex, France.


Retinoic acid (RA) regulates several gene programs by nuclear RA receptors (RARs) that are ligand-dependent transcriptional transregulators. The basic mechanism for switching on transcription of cognate-target genes involves RAR binding at specific response elements and a network of interactions with coregulatory protein complexes. In addition to these classical genomic effects, we recently demonstrated that RA also induces the rapid activation of the p38MAPK/MSK1 pathway, with characteristic downstream consequences on the phosphorylation of RARs and the expression of their target genes. Here, we aimed at deciphering the underlying mechanism of the rapid non-genomic effects of RA. We highlighted a novel paradigm in which a fraction of the cellular RARα pool is present in membrane lipid rafts, where it forms complexes with G protein alpha Q (Gαq) in response to RA. This rapid RA-induced formation of RARα/Gαq complexes in lipid rafts is required for the activation of p38MAPK that occurs in response to RA. Accordingly, in RA-resistant cancer cells, characterized by the absence of p38MAPK activation, RARα present in membrane lipid rafts does not associate with Gαq, pointing out the essential contribution of RARα/Gαq complexes in RA signaling.

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