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Review Article

Tyrosine kinase receptor-activated signal transduction pathways which lead to oncogenesis


Oncogenesis is a complicated process involving signal transduction pathways that mediate many different physiological events. Typically, oncogenes cause unregulated cell growth and this phenotype has been attributed to the growth-stimulating activity of oncogenes such as ras and src. In recent years, much research effort has focused on proteins that function downstream of Ras, leading to the identification of the Ras/Raf/MAPK pathway, because activation of this pathway leads to cellular proliferation. Activated receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs) also utilize this pathway to mediate their growth-stimulating effects. However, RTKs activate many other signaling proteins that are not involved in the cellular proliferation process, per se and we are learning that these pathways also contribute to the oncogenic process. In fact, RTKs and many of the proteins involved in RTK-dependent signal transduction can also function as oncogenes. For example, the catalytic subunit of phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3-K) was recently identified as an oncogenic protein. The scope of pathways that are activated by oncogenic RTKs is expanding. Thus, not only do RTKs activate Ras-dependent pathways that drive proliferation, RTKs activate PI3-K-dependent pathways which also contribute to the oncogenic mechanism. PI3-K can initiate changes in gene transcription, cytoskeletal changes through β-catenin, changes in cell motility through the tumor suppressor, adenomatous polyposis coli (APC), and phosphorylation of BAD, a protein involved in apoptotic and anti-apoptotic signaling. There is also cross-talk between RTKs and the oncostatin cytokine receptor which may positively and negatively influence oncogenesis. For this review, we will focus on oncogenic RTKs and the network of cellular proteins that are activated by RTKs because multiple, divergent pathways are responsible for oncogenesis.

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Correspondence to Richard R Vaillancourt.

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Porter, A., Vaillancourt, R. Tyrosine kinase receptor-activated signal transduction pathways which lead to oncogenesis. Oncogene 17, 1343–1352 (1998).

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  • phosphoinositide 3-kinase
  • cytoskeleton
  • apoptosis

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