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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1994 Aug 30;91(18):8324-8.

Inhibition of heat shock protein HSP90-pp60v-src heteroprotein complex formation by benzoquinone ansamycins: essential role for stress proteins in oncogenic transformation.

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Clinical Pharmacology Branch, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892.


The molecular mechanisms by which oncogenic tyrosine kinases induce cellular transformation are unclear. Herbimycin A, geldanamycin, and certain other benzoquinone ansamycins display an unusual capacity to revert tyrosine kinase-induced oncogenic transformation. As an approach to the study of v-src-mediated transformation, we examined ansamycin action in transformed cells and found that drug-induced reversion could be achieved without direct inhibition of src phosphorylating activity. To identify mechanisms other than kinase inhibition for drug-mediated reversion, we prepared a solid phase-immobilized geldanamycin derivative and affinity precipitated the molecular targets with which the drug interacted. In a range of cell lines, immobilized geldanamycin bound elements of a major class of heat shock protein (HSP90) in a stable and pharmacologically specific manner. Consistent with these binding data, we found that soluble geldanamycin and herbimycin A inhibited specifically the formation of a previously described src-HSP90 heteroprotein complex. A related benzoquinone ansamycin that failed to revert transformed cells did not inhibit the formation of this complex. These results demonstrate that HSP participation in multimolecular complex formation is required for src-mediated transformation and can provide a target for drug modulation.

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