The involvement of the Ras superfamily of GTPases in the pathogenesis of rhabdomysarcoma (RMS) is not well understood. While mutant H-Ras leads to embryonal RMS (ERMS) formation in experimental animals and in Costello syndrome patients, no data exists on the potential role of Ras GTPases in the pathogenesis of alveolar RMS (ARMS). To address this issue better, we focused on the role of the GTP exchange factor RasGRF1 in this process. We observed that, in comparison to normal skeletal muscle cells, RasGRF1 mRNA is upregulated in the majority of human ARMS cell lines and subsequently confirmed its high expression in patient samples. By employing confocal microscopy analysis, we observed RasGRF1 accumulation in cell filopodia, which suggests its involvement in ARMS cell migration. Furthermore, we observed that RasGRF1 becomes phosphorylated in ARMS after stimulation by several pro-metastatic factors, such as SDF-1 and HGF/SF, as well as after exposure to growth-promoting Igf-2 and insulin. More importantly, activation of RasGRF1 expression correlated with activation of p42/44 MAPK and AKT. When the expression of RasGRF1 was down-regulated in ARMS cells by an shRNA strategy, these RasGRF1-kd RMS cells did not respond to stimulation by SDF-1, HGF/SF, Igf-2 or insulin by phosphorylation of p42/44 MAPK and AKT and lost their chemotactic responsiveness; however, their adhesion was not affected. We also observed that RasGRF1-kd ARMS cells proliferated at a very low rate in vitro, and, more importantly, after inoculation into immunodeficient SCID/beige inbred mice they formed significantly smaller tumors. We conclude that RasGRF1 plays an important role in ARMS pathogenesis and is a new potential therapeutic target to inhibit ARMS growth.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research