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J Cell Physiol. 1998 Jan;174(1):35-47.

Repression of mitogen-activated protein kinases ERK1/ERK2 activity by a protein tyrosine phosphatase in rat fibroblasts transformed by upstream oncoproteins.

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Centre de Recherche, Hôtel-Dieu de Montréal, Quebec, Canada.


The observation that mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinases ERK1 and ERK2 are constitutively activated in a number of oncogene-transformed cell lines has led to the hypothesis that prolonged activation of these enzymes is required for the transformation process. To investigate this question, we have examined the regulation of the ERK pathway in Rat1 fibroblasts transformed with activated c-Raf-1 (Raf22W), v-Ha-Ras, and v-Src. Expression of these oncoproteins had no effect on the enzymatic activity of ERK1 and ERK2 in either serum-starved or exponentially growing cells. Moreover, the stimulatory effect of serum on ERK1/ERK2 activity was substantially reduced or abrogated in these cells; this impairment was associated with a strong attenuation of c-fos gene induction. In contrast, expression of Raf22w, v-Ha-Ras, or v-Src resulted in the constitutive activation of the upstream kinases MEK1 and MEK2. Treatment of the cells with vanadate completely restored the activation of ERK1/ERK2 in oncogene-transformed cells, suggesting the involvement of a vanadate-sensitive tyrosine phosphatase. Northern blot analysis of VH1-like dual-specificity MAP kinase phosphatases did not reveal any significant difference in the mRNA expression pattern of these genes between parental and transformed Rat1 cells. Phosphoamino acid analysis indicated that ERK1 is phosphorylated on threonine, but not on tyrosine, in oncogene-transformed cells and that vanadate treatment restores tyrosine phosphorylation. We conclude from these results that ERK1/ERK2 activity is repressed by a single-specificity tyrosine phosphatase in oncogene-transformed rat fibroblasts.

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