The Journal of biological chemistry

Identification of mutant K-Ras-dependent phenotypes using a panel of isogenic cell lines.

PMID 23188824


To assess the consequences of endogenous mutant K-Ras, we analyzed the signaling and biological properties of a small panel of isogenic cell lines. These include the cancer cell lines DLD1, HCT116, and Hec1A, in which either the WT or mutant K-ras allele has been disrupted, and SW48 colorectal cancer cells and human mammary epithelial cells in which a single copy of mutant K-ras was introduced at its endogenous genomic locus. We find that single copy mutant K-Ras causes surprisingly modest activation of downstream signaling to ERK and Akt. In contrast, a negative feedback signaling loop to EGFR and N-Ras occurs in some, but not all, of these cell lines. Mutant K-Ras also had relatively minor effects on cell proliferation and cell migration but more dramatic effects on cell transformation as assessed by growth in soft agar. Surprisingly, knock-out of the wild type K-ras allele consistently increased growth in soft agar, suggesting tumor-suppressive properties of this gene under these conditions. Finally, we examined the effects of single copy mutant K-Ras on global gene expression. Although transcriptional programs triggered by mutant K-Ras were generally quite distinct in the different cell lines, there was a small number of genes that were consistently overexpressed, and these could be used to monitor K-Ras inhibition in a panel of human tumor cell lines. We conclude that there are conserved components of mutant K-Ras signaling and phenotypes but that many depend on cell context and environmental cues.