Simvastatin inhibits malignant transformation following expression of the Ha-ras oncogene in NIH 3T3 fibroblasts

Cell Physiol Biochem. 2002;12(1):19-30. doi: 10.1159/000047823.


In previous studies we have shown that the expression of the transforming Ha-ras oncogene in NIH 3T3 fibroblasts stimulates cellular calcium entry, which triggers oscillatory calcium induced calcium release from internal stores. The intracellular calcium oscillations lead to cytoskeletal remodeling by actin stress fiber depolymerization and activation of the Na(+)/H(+) exchanger thus mediating cell swelling and intracellular alkalosis, both important mitogenic signals. This is evidenced by abrogation of Ha-ras induced growth factor independent cell proliferation by interference with any of these events, i.e. by inhibition of cellular calcium entry or inhibition of the Na(+)/H(+) exchanger. As shown in this study, simvastatin, an inhibitor of 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl coenzyme A (HMG-CoA) reductase, the key enzyme for cholesterol biosynthesis, is able to prevent these events following the expression of the transforming Ha-ras oncogene. We show, that simvastatin inhibits farnesylation dependent membrane translocation of a CAAX motive bearing yellow fluorescent protein and suppresses Ha-ras stimulated cellular calcium influx, which can be identified as capacitative calcium entry. In addition simvastatin is able to block regulatory volume decrease channels and to suppress the cytoskeletal remodeling, intracellular alkalinization, increase in cell volume and growth factor independent cell proliferation induced by the oncogene. Thus simvastatin is able to prevent crucial cellular events following expression of the transforming Ha-ras oncogene.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • 3T3 Cells
  • Actins / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Bacterial Proteins / genetics
  • Calcium / metabolism
  • Cell Division / drug effects
  • Cell Membrane / metabolism
  • Cell Size / drug effects
  • Cell Size / physiology
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic / drug effects*
  • Cytoskeleton / drug effects
  • Fibroblasts / cytology
  • Fibroblasts / drug effects*
  • Fibroblasts / metabolism
  • Gene Expression
  • Genes, ras / physiology*
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors / pharmacology*
  • Intracellular Fluid / metabolism
  • Ion Channels / drug effects
  • Luminescent Proteins / genetics
  • Mice
  • Patch-Clamp Techniques
  • Protein Prenylation / physiology
  • Protein Transport / physiology
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins / genetics
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins / metabolism
  • Simvastatin / pharmacology*
  • Transfection


  • Actins
  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors
  • Ion Channels
  • Luminescent Proteins
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins
  • yellow fluorescent protein, Bacteria
  • Simvastatin
  • Calcium