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Mol Cell Biol. 1996 Jan;16(1):135-45.

Differential activation of the Ras/extracellular-signal-regulated protein kinase pathway is responsible for the biological consequences induced by the Axl receptor tyrosine kinase.

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Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, Department of Pharmacology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill 27599-7295, USA.


To understand the mechanism of Axl signaling, we have initiated studies to delineate downstream components in interleukin-3-dependent 32D cells by using a chimeric receptor containing the recombinant epidermal growth factor (EGF) receptor extracellular and transmembrane domains and the Axl kinase domain (EAK [for EGF receptor-Axl kinase]). We have previously shown that upon exogenous EGF stimulation, 32D-EAK cells are capable of proliferation in the absence of interleukin-3. With this system, we determined that EAK-induced cell survival and mitogenesis are dependent upon the Ras/extracellular-signal-regulated protein kinase (ERK) cascade. Although the phosphatidylinositol-3 kinase pathway is activated upon EAK signaling, it appears to be dispensable for the biological actions of the Axl kinase. Furthermore, we demonstrated that different threshold levels of Ras/ERK activation are needed to induce a block to apoptosis or proliferation in 32D cells. Recently, we have identified an Axl ligand, GAS6. Surprisingly, GAS6-stimulated 32D-Axl cells exhibited no blockage to apoptosis or mitogenic response which is correlated with the absence of Ras/ERK activation. Taken together, these data suggest that different extracellular domains dramatically alter the intracellular response of the Axl kinase. Furthermore, our data suggest that the GAS6-Axl interaction does not induce mitogenesis and that its exact role remains to be determined.

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