Focus of Research:
Massachusetts General Hospital
Co-Authors R. Tiwari., J. Kralova, and H.R. Bose, Jr.
Cell transformation by the v-rel oncogene is mediated by the aberrant expression of genes that are normally tightly regulated by other Rel/NF-κB family members. Although a number of genes inappropriately activated or suppressed by v-Rel have been identified, their contributions to the v-Rel transformation process have been poorly characterized. Here, we examine the role of individual AP-1 proteins in v-Rel-mediated transformation. v-Rel transformed cells exhibit elevated RNA and protein expression of c-Fos, c-Jun, and ATF2 and sustained repression of Fra-2. c-Fos and c-Jun are essential in both the initiation and maintenance of v-Rel-mediated transformation while Fra-2 is dispensable. By employing a c-Jun dimerization mutant, we further identified Fos:Jun heterodimers as major contributors to the v-Rel transformation process. The inability of c-Rel to induce the expression of c-Fos and c-Jun contributes to its weaker oncogenic potential relative to v-Rel. Our studies also demonstrate that v-Rel may induce AP-1 members by directly upregulating gene expression (c-fos and ATF2) and by activating pathways that stimulate AP-1 activity. While elevated expression of ATF2 is also required for v-Rel-mediated transformation, its ectopic overexpression is inhibitory. Investigating the mode of ATF2 regulation revealed a positive feedback mechanism whereby ATF2 induces p38 MAPK phosphorylation to further induce its own activity. In addition, these studies identified Ha-Ras as an effector of v-Rel mediated transformation and reveal a novel role for ATF2 in the inhibition of the Ras-Raf-MEK-ERK signaling pathway. Overall, these studies reveal distinct and complex roles of AP-1 proteins in Rel/NF-κB oncogenesis.
Oncogene. Advance online publication 21 June 2010