Enhanced clonogenic survival induced by protein tyrosine phosphatase (PTP) inhibition after Cr(VI) exposure is mediated by c-Raf and Ras activity

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Journal Article

Publication Date



Cellular Signalling








Cell survival; Clonogenic lethality; Genotoxic stress; Hexavalent chromium [Cr(VI)]; PTP inhibitor; Ras/Raf/Mek/Erk pathway; Sodium orthovanadate


Our recent studies showed that maintenance of protein tyrosine phosphorylation by PTP inhibition enhanced cell growth, clonogenic survival, and mutagenesis after a single low-level Cr(VI) exposure, thereby suggesting that tyrosine phosphorylation-dependent signaling may govern inappropriate survival in human lung fibroblasts (HLFs). Our goal is to identify specific phospho-tyrosine regulator(s)/ downstream effectors involved in enhanced survival after Cr(VI) exposure and PTP inhibition. Phosphotyrosine profiling array showed that PTP inhibition following Cr(VI) exposure increased tyrosine phosphorylation of specific proteins, such as FGR and ABL, which are upstream regulators of both Erk and Akt pathways. To explore the roles of these pathways in the PTP-induced increase in clonogenic survival after Cr(VI) exposure, we examined the effect of combined Akt1 and Erk1/2 knockdown via siRNA technology. Akt1 and/or Erk1/2 silencing had no effect on the PTP inhibitor-induced increase in survival following Cr(VI) exposure, suggesting the presence of non-Akt/non-Erk-mediated survival signaling. Interestingly, geldanamycin, an HSP90 inhibitor and non-specific Raf inhibitor, abrogated the PTP inhibitor-mediated increase in survival following Cr(VI) exposure and abolished the expression/activity of c-Raf and activity of Mek. These findings prompted us to explore upstream regulators of Erk, i.e., Ras, c-Raf and Mek for their potential roles in clonogenic survival. GW5074, a specific c-Raf kinase inhibitor did not alter the effect of the PTP inhibitor but decreased Cr(VI)-mediated clonogenic lethality, potentially though Mek hyperactivation. A genetic approach with a c/a Mek1 mutant also showed that Mek activity was not directly associated with the PTP inhibitor effect. Finally, a genetic approach with d/n or c/a Ras and c-Raf mutants, showed that Ras and c-Raf activities play a substantive role in enhancing clonogenic survival by PTP inhibition following Cr(VI) insult. In conclusion, these studies highlight a novel pro-survival mechanism for clonogenic survival in the face of genotoxic stress in the presence of PTP inhibition via an Erk/Mek-independent and Ras/c-Raf-dependent regulation in normal human lung fibroblasts.

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