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Department of Pharmacology

Hennig, A, Markwart, R, Wolff, K, Schubert, K, Cui, Y, Prior, IA, Esparza-Franco, MA, Ladds, G, Rubio, I

BACKGROUND: Growth factors induce a characteristically short-lived Ras activation in cells emerging from quiescence. Extensive work has shown that transient as opposed to sustained Ras activation is critical for the induction of mitogenic programs. Mitogen-induced accumulation of active Ras-GTP results from increased nucleotide exchange driven by the nucleotide exchange factor Sos. In contrast, the mechanism accounting for signal termination and prompt restoration of basal Ras-GTP levels is unclear, but has been inferred to involve feedback inhibition of Sos. Remarkably, how GTP-hydrolase activating proteins (GAPs) participate in controlling the rise and fall of Ras-GTP levels is unknown. RESULTS: Monitoring nucleotide exchange of Ras in permeabilized cells we find, unexpectedly, that the decline of growth factor-induced Ras-GTP levels proceeds in the presence of unabated high nucleotide exchange, pointing to GAP activation as a major mechanism of signal termination. Experiments with non-hydrolysable GTP analogues and mathematical modeling confirmed and rationalized the presence of high GAP activity as Ras-GTP levels decline in a background of high nucleotide exchange. Using pharmacological and genetic approaches we document a raised activity of the neurofibromatosis type I tumor suppressor Ras-GAP neurofibromin and an involvement of Rsk1 and Rsk2 in the down-regulation of Ras-GTP levels. CONCLUSIONS: Our findings show that, in addition to feedback inhibition of Sos, feedback stimulation of the RasGAP neurofibromin enforces termination of the Ras signal in the context of growth-factor signaling. These findings ascribe a precise role to neurofibromin in growth factor-dependent control of Ras activity and illustrate how, by engaging Ras-GAP activity, mitogen-challenged cells play safe to ensure a timely termination of the Ras signal irrespectively of the reigning rate of nucleotide exchange.

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Published date: 
9 February 2016
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Publication type: 
Journal articles
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Cell Commun Signal
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