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    Leukemic relapse is believed to be driven by transformed hematopoietic stem cells (HSC) that harbor oncogenic mutations or have lost tumor suppressor function. Recent comprehensive sequencing studies have shown that mutations predicted to activate Ras signaling are highly prevalent in hematologic malignancies and, notably, in refractory and relapsed cases. To better understand what drives this clinical phenomenon, we expressed oncogenic NrasG12D within the hematopoietic system in mice and interrogated its effects on HSC survival. N-RasG12D conferred a survival benefit to HSCs and progenitors following metabolic and genotoxic stress. This effect was limited to HSCs and early progenitors and was independent of autophagy and cell proliferation. N-RasG12D-mediated HSC survival was not affected by inhibition of canonical Ras effectors such as MEK and PI3K. However, inhibition of the noncanonical Ras effector pathway protein kinase C (PKC) ameliorated the protective effects of N-RasG12D. Mechanistically, N-RasG12D lowered levels of reactive oxygen species (ROS), which correlated with reduced mitochondrial membrane potential and ATP levels. Inhibition of PKC restored the levels of ROS to that of control HSCs and abrogated the protective effects granted by N-RasG12D. Thus, N-RasG12D activation within HSCs promotes cell survival through the mitigation of ROS, and targeting this mechanism may represent a viable strategy to induce apoptosis during malignant transformation of HSCs. SIGNIFICANCE: Targeting oncogenic N-Ras-mediated reduction of ROS in hematopoietic stem cells through inhibition of the noncanonical Ras effector PKC may serve as a novel strategy for treatment of leukemia and other Ras-mutated cancers. ©2021 American Association for Cancer Research.


    Gina M Ney, Kevin B Yang, Victor Ng, Lu Liu, Meiling Zhao, Wun Kuk, Lila Alaka, Leilani Sampang, Adam Ross, Morgan A Jones, Xi Jin, Laura M McKay, Hadie Evarts, Qing Li. Oncogenic N-Ras Mitigates Oxidative Stress-Induced Apoptosis of Hematopoietic Stem Cells. Cancer research. 2021 Mar 01;81(5):1240-1251

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    PMID: 33441311

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