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Oncogene. 1998 Apr 9;16(14):1899-902.

Abrogation of c-Raf expression induces apoptosis in tumor cells.

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Institut für Molekularbiologie und Tumorforschung, Philipps-Universität Marburg, Germany.


Signal transduction pathways involving the c-Raf protein kinase are frequently activated in tumor cells. We have addressed the relevance of this activation by a loss-of-function approach. An anti-sense phosphorothioate oligonucleotide (ODN) specifically targeted against c-raf mRNA (Monia et al., 1996a) was used to block c-Raf protein expression in four different cell lines derived from lung, cervical, prostate and colon carcinomas. Concomitant with the abrogation of c-Raf expression we observed the occurrence of classical apoptotic markers, including chromatin condensation, inter-nucleosomal DNA cleavage, annexin V binding and cleavage of PARP, which was followed by cell death, affecting most of the cell population. This induction of apoptosis occurred independent of the p53 status of the cell. These findings demonstrate that c-Raf can protect tumor cells from undergoing programmed cell death, and suggest that the interference with c-Raf expression or function by ODNs or specific drugs could represent a powerful means for improving the efficacy of anti-cancer therapy.

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