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Open Access Research

Serum-dependent transcriptional networks identify distinct functional roles for H-Ras and N-Ras during initial stages of the cell cycle

Esther Castellano12, Carmen Guerrero1, Alejandro Núñez1, Javier De Las Rivas1 and Eugenio Santos1*

Author affiliations

1 Centro de Investigación del Cáncer, IBMCC (CSIC-USAL), University of Salamanca, Campus Unamuno, 37007 Salamanca, Spain

2 Current address: Signal Transduction Laboratory, Cancer Research UK London Research Institute, 44 Lincoln's Inn Fields, London WC2A 3PX, UK

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Citation and License

Genome Biology 2009, 10:R123  doi:10.1186/gb-2009-10-11-r123

Published: 6 November 2009

Abstract

Background

Using oligonucleotide microarrays, we compared transcriptional profiles corresponding to the initial cell cycle stages of mouse fibroblasts lacking the small GTPases H-Ras and/or N-Ras with those of matching, wild-type controls.

Results

Serum-starved wild-type and knockout ras fibroblasts had very similar transcriptional profiles, indicating that H-Ras and N-Ras do not significantly control transcriptional responses to serum deprivation stress. In contrast, genomic disruption of H-ras or N-ras, individually or in combination, determined specific differential gene expression profiles in response to post-starvation stimulation with serum for 1 hour (G0/G1 transition) or 8 hours (mid-G1 progression). The absence of N-Ras caused significantly higher changes than the absence of H-Ras in the wave of transcriptional activation linked to G0/G1 transition. In contrast, the absence of H-Ras affected the profile of the transcriptional wave detected during G1 progression more strongly than did the absence of N-Ras. H-Ras was predominantly functionally associated with growth and proliferation, whereas N-Ras had a closer link to the regulation of development, the cell cycle, immunomodulation and apoptosis. Mechanistic analysis indicated that extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK)-dependent activation of signal transducer and activator of transcription 1 (Stat1) mediates the regulatory effect of N-Ras on defense and immunity, whereas the pro-apoptotic effects of N-Ras are mediated through ERK and p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase signaling.

Conclusions

Our observations confirm the notion of an absolute requirement for different peaks of Ras activity during the initial stages of the cell cycle and document the functional specificity of H-Ras and N-Ras during those processes.