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Neoplasia (New York, N.Y.)


p21-activated kinase 2 (PAK-2) seems to be a regulatory switch between cell survival and cell death signaling. We have shown previously that activation of full-length PAK-2 by Rac or Cdc42 stimulates cell survival, whereas caspase activation of PAK-2 to the proapoptotic PAK-2p34 fragment is involved in the cell death response. In this study, we present a role of elevated activity of full-length PAK-2 in anchorage-independent growth and resistance to anticancer drug-induced apoptosis of cancer cells. Hs578T human breast cancer cells that have low levels of PAK-2 activity were more sensitive to anticancer drug-induced apoptosis and showed higher levels of caspase activation of PAK-2 than MDA-MB435 and MCF-7 human breast cancer cells that have high levels of PAK-2 activity. To examine the role of elevated PAK-2 activity in breast cancer, we have introduced a conditionally active PAK-2 into Hs578T human breast cells. Conditional activation of PAK-2 causes loss of contact inhibition and anchorage-independent growth of Hs578T cells. Furthermore, conditional activation of PAK-2 suppresses activation of caspase 3, caspase activation of PAK-2, and apoptosis of Hs578T cells in response to the anticancer drug cisplatin. Our data suggest a novel mechanism by which full-length PAK-2 activity controls the apoptotic response by regulating levels of activated caspase 3 and thereby its own cleavage to the proapoptotic PAK-2p34 fragment. As a result, elevated PAK-2 activity interrupts the apoptotic response and thereby causes anchorage-independent survival and growth and resistance to anticancer drug-induced apoptosis.



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