Enhanced cathepsin L expression is mediated by different Ras effector pathways in fibroblasts and epithelial cells

Int J Cancer. 2004 Nov 1;112(2):190-9. doi: 10.1002/ijc.20398.


Ras expression induces increased expression and altered targeting of lysosomal proteases in multiple cell types, but the specific downstream cytoplasmic signaling pathways mediating these changes have not been identified. In this study, we compared the involvement of 3 major Ras effectors, Raf, phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K) and Ral guanine nucleotide exchange factor (RalGEF) in the Ras-mediated alteration of lysosomal protease protein expression and targeting in rat 208F fibroblasts and rat ovarian surface epithelial (ROSE) cells. Effector domain mutants of Ras, constitutively activated variants of Raf, PI3K and RalGEF and pharmacologic inhibitors of MEK and PI3K were utilized to determine the role of these downstream pathways in mediating fibroblast transformation and lysosomal protease regulation in the fibroblasts and epithelial cells. We found that Raf activation of the ERK mitogen-activated protein kinase pathway alone was sufficient to cause morphologic and growth transformation of the fibroblasts and was necessary and sufficient to alter cathepsin L expression and targeting. In contrast, transformation and upregulation of cathepsin L expression in the epithelial cells required the activity of all 3 Ras effectors. Increased protease secretion from the epithelial cells was not observed on ectopic expression of Ras, as it was from the fibroblasts, consistent with the utilization of different signaling pathways in the 2 cell types. In neither cell type did Ras expression increase the expression, processing or secretion of 2 other major lysosomal proteases, cathepsin B and cathepsin D. Thus, Ras utilizes different effectors to mediate transformation and to deregulate cathepsin L expression and secretion in fibroblast and epithelial cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cathepsin L
  • Cathepsins / biosynthesis*
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic
  • Cysteine Endopeptidases
  • Enzyme Precursors
  • Epithelial Cells
  • Female
  • Fibroblasts / physiology
  • Guanine Nucleotide Exchange Factors / pharmacology*
  • Lysosomes
  • Mitogens
  • Ovary / cytology
  • Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinases / pharmacology*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-raf / pharmacology*
  • Rats
  • Signal Transduction*


  • Enzyme Precursors
  • Guanine Nucleotide Exchange Factors
  • Mitogens
  • Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinases
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-raf
  • Cathepsins
  • Cysteine Endopeptidases
  • Cathepsin L
  • Ctsl protein, rat