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Mol Cell Biol. 1996 Jul;16(7):3370-80.

Ras induces anchorage-independent growth by subverting multiple adhesion-regulated cell cycle events.

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Department of Biochemistry, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, New York 10029, USA.


Anchorage-independent growth is a hallmark of transformed cells, but little is known of the molecular mechanisms that underlie this phenomenon. We describe here studies of cell cycle control of anchorage-independent growth induced by the ras oncogene, with the use of a somatic cell mutant fibroblast line (ER-1-2) that is specifically defective in oncogene-mediated, anchorage-independent growth. Control, nontransformed PKC3-F4 cells and ER-1-2 cells cannot proliferate in semisolid medium. Three important cell cycle events are dependent on adhesion of these cells to a substratum: phosphorylation of the retinoblastoma protein, pRB; cyclin E-dependent kinase activity; and cyclin A expression. PKC3-F4 cells that express ras (PKC3-F4/ras cells) proliferate in nonadherent cultures, and each of these three events occurs in the absence of adhesion in PKC3-F4/ras cells. Thus, ras can override the adhesion requirement of cellular functions that are necessary for cell cycle progression. ER-1-2 cells that express ras (ER-1-2/ras cells) possess hyperphosphorylated forms of pRB and cyclin E-dependent kinase activity in the absence of adhesion but remain adhesion dependent for expression of cyclin A. The adhesion dependence of pRB phosphorylation and cyclin E-dependent kinase activity is therefore dissociable from the adhesion dependence of cyclin A expression. Furthermore, ectopic expression of cyclin A is sufficient to rescue anchorage-independent growth of ER-1-2/ras cells but does not induce anchorage-independent growth of PKC3-F4 or ER-1-2 cells. However, like pRB phosphorylation and cyclin E-dependent kinase activity, the kinase activity associated with ectopically expressed cyclin A is dependent on cell adhesion, and this dependence is overcome by ras. Thus, the induction of anchorage-independent growth by ras may involve multiple signals that lead to both expression of cyclin A and activation of G1 cyclin-dependent kinase activities in the absence of cell adhesion.

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