The extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) is one of the principal hub proteins that transmit growth signals from upstream oncogene products including Ras and BRaf to downstream effector proteins. However, there are both reports supporting and refuting the increase in ERK activity in cancer tissues expressing the active Ras and BRaf proteins. We considered that the cell density might account for this discrepancy. To examine this possibility, we prepared Madin-Darby canine kidney (MDCK) cells that expressed an active HRas, NRas, KRas, or BRaf and an ERK biosensor based on the principle of Förster resonance energy transfer (FRET). As we anticipated, expression of the active Ras or BRaf increased ERK activity at low cell densities. However, the ERK activity was markedly suppressed at high cell densities irrespective of the expression of the active Ras or BRaf. Western blotting analysis with Phos-tag gel revealed the decrease of tyrosine and threonine-diphosphorylated active ERK and the increase of tyrosine-monophosphorylated inactive ERK at high cell density. In addition, we found that calyculin A, an inhibitor for PPP-subfamily protein serine/ threonine phosphatases, decreased the tyrosine-monophosphorylated ERK. Our study suggests that PPP-subfamily phosphatases may be responsible for cell density-dependent ERK dephosphorylation in cancer cells expressing active Ras or BRaf protein.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)