Anoikis is a form of programmed cell death induced in normal epithelial cells by detachment from the extracellular matrix. In epithelial cells of the intestine and other organs, activated ras induces resistance to anoikis, but the actual molecular effectors directly involved in the apoptotic machinery that execute or block anoikis have not yet been identified. Bak, a pro-apoptotic member of the Bcl-2 family, is downregulated in a high proportion of colorectal tumours. In addition, Bak is an important regulator of apoptosis in normal intestinal epithelial cells. Here, we show that activated ras induces the downregulation of Bak in rat and human intestinal epithelial cells. This ras-induced downregulation of Bak expression could be suppressed by an inhibitor of phosphatidylinositol (PI) 3-kinase, an enzyme already implicated in ras-induced resistance to anoikis. Ectopic expression of Bak in ras-transformed rat intestinal epithelial IEC-18 cells inhibited ras-induced resistance to anoikis and significantly reduced their tumorigenicity. We conclude, therefore, that the ability of ras to downregulate Bak, and the consequent resistance to anoikis, are essential components of the transforming capacity of this oncogene in intestinal epithelial cells.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)