RAC1 GTPase plays an important role in γ-irradiation induced G 2/M checkpoint activation

Ying Yan, Patrick M. Greer, Phu T. Cao, Ryan H. Kolb, Kenneth H. Cowan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


Introduction: In response to gamma-irradiation (IR)-induced double-strand DNA breaks, cells undergo cell-cycle arrest, allowing time for DNA repair before reentering the cell cycle. G 2/M checkpoint activation involves activation of ataxia telangiectasia mutated (ATM)/ATM- and rad3-related (ATR) kinases and inhibition of Cdc25 phosphatases, resulting in inhibition of Cdc2 kinase and subsequent G 2/M cell-cycle arrest. Previous studies from our laboratory showed that the G 2/M checkpoint activation after IR exposure of MCF-7 breast cancer cells is dependent on the activation of extracellular signal-regulated protein kinase 1 and 2 (ERK1/2) signaling. In the present studies, we investigated the role of Ras-related C3 botulinum toxin substrate 1 (Rac1) guanosine triphosphatase (GTPase) in IR-induced G 2/M checkpoint response and ERK1/2 activation, as well as in cell survival after IR.Methods: With Rac1-specific inhibitor, dominant negative mutant Rac1 (N17Rac1) and specific small interfering RNA, the effect of Rac1 on IR-induced G 2/M checkpoint response and ERK1/2 activation was examined in human breast cancer cells. In addition, the effect of Rac1 on cell survival after irradiation was assessed by using Rac1-specific inhibitor.Results: IR exposure of MCF-7 breast cancer cells was associated with a marked activation of Rac1 GTPase. Furthermore, inhibition of Rac1 by using specific inhibitor, dominant-negative Rac1 mutant, or specific siRNA resulted in attenuation of IR-induced G 2/M arrest and concomitant diminution of IR-induced activation of ATM, ATR, Chk1, and Chk2 kinases, as well as phosphorylation of Cdc2-Tyr15. Moreover, Rac1 inhibition or decreased Rac1 expression also abrogated IR-induced phosphorylation of mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase 1 and 2 (MEK1/2) and ERK1/2. Ultimately, inhibition of Rac1 markedly increased cellular sensitivity to IR exposure, which involves induction of apoptosis.Conclusion: Studies in this report suggest that Rac1 GTPase plays an essential role in the activation of IR-induced ERK1/2 signaling and subsequent G 2/M checkpoint response. Furthermore, results also support a role for Rac1 in promoting cell survival after irradiation treatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberR60
JournalBreast Cancer Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 11 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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