Retinoic acid is known to cause the myeloid differentiation and G1/0 cell cycle arrest of HL-60 cells in a process that requires mitogen-activated protein/extracellular signal regulated kinase (MEK)-dependent extracellular signal regulated kinase (ERK)2 activation. It has also been shown that ectopic expression of cFMS, a platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF)-family transmembrane tyrosine kinase receptor, enhances retinoic acid-induced differentiation and G1/0 arrest. The mechanism of how the retinoic acid and cFMS signaling pathways intersect is not known. The present data show that the ectopic expression of cFMS results in the differential loss of sensitivity of retinoic acid-induced differentiation or G1/0 arrest to inhibition of ERK2 activation. PD98059 was used to inhibit MEK and consequently ERK2. In wild-type HL-60 cells, PD98059 blocked retinoic acid-induced differentiation; but in cFMS stable transfectants, PD98059 only attenuated the induced differentiation, with the resulting response resembling that of retinoic acid-treated wild-type HL-60. In wild-type HL-60, PD98059 greatly attenuated the retinoic acid-induced G1/0 arrest allied with retinoblastoma (RB) hypophosphorylation; but in cFMS stable transfectants, PD98059 had no inhibitory effect on RB hypophosphorylation and G1/0 arrest. This differential sensitivity to PD98059 and uncoupling of retinoic acid-induced differentiation and G1/0 arrest in cFMS transfectants is associated with changes in mitogen-activated protein kinase signaling molecules. The cFMS transfectants had more activated ERK2 than did the wild-type cells, which surprisingly was not attributable to enhanced mitogen-activated protein-kinase-kinase-kinase (RAF) phosphorylation. Retinoic acid increased the amount of activated ERK2 and phosphorylated RAF in both cell lines. But PD98059 eliminated detectable ERK2 activation, as well as inhibited RAF phosphorylation, in untreated and retinoic acid-treated wild-type HL-60 and cFMS transfectants, consistent with MEK or ERK feedback-regulation of RAF, in all four cases. Since PD98059 blocks the cFMS-conferred enhancement of the retinoic acid-induced differentiation, but not growth arrest, the data indicate that cFMS-enhanced differentiation acts primarily through MEK and ERK2, but cFMS-enhanced G1/0 arrest allied with RB hypophosphorylation depends on another cFMS signal route, which by itself can effect G1/0 arrest without activated ERK2. Ectopic expression of cFMS and differential sensitivity to ERK2 inhibition thus reveal that retinoic acid-induced HL-60 cell differentiation and G1/0 arrest are differentially dependent on ERK2 and can be uncoupled. A significant unanticipated finding was that retinoic acid caused a MEK-dependent increase in the amount of phosphorylated RAF. This increase may help sustain prolonged ERK2 activation.
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Vol. 36 • No. 4