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Cell. 1995 Jun 30;81(7):1147-57.

Selective activation of the JNK signaling cascade and c-Jun transcriptional activity by the small GTPases Rac and Cdc42Hs.

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Department of Pharmacology, University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, La Jolla 92093-0636, USA.


The Rho subfamily of GTPases is involved in control of cell morphology in mammals and yeast. The mammalian Rac and Cdc42 proteins control formation of lamellipodia and filopodia, respectively. These proteins also activate MAP kinase (MAPK) cascades that regulate gene expression. Constitutively activated forms of Rac and Cdc42Hs are efficient activators of a cascade leading to JNK and p38/Mpk2 activation. RhoA did not exhibit this activity, and none of the proteins activated the ERK subgroup of MAPKs. JNK, but not ERK, activation was also observed in response to Dbl, an oncoprotein that acts as a nucleotide exchange factor for Cdc42Hs. Results with dominant interfering alleles place Rac1 as an intermediate between Ha-Ras and MEKK in the signaling cascade leading from growth factor receptors and v-Src to JNK activation. JNK and p38 activation are likely to contribute to the biological effects of Rac, Cdc42Hs, and Dbl on cell growth and proliferation.

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