RAS oncogene-mediated deregulation of the transcriptome: from molecular signature to function

Adv Enzyme Regul. 2011;51(1):126-36. doi: 10.1016/j.advenzreg.2010.11.005. Epub 2010 Nov 20.


Transcriptome analysis of cancer cells has developed into a standard procedure to elucidate multiple features of the malignant process and to link gene expression to clinical properties. Gene expression profiling based on microarrays provides essentially correlative information and needs to be transferred to the functional level in order to understand the activity and contribution of individual genes or sets of genes as elements of the gene signature. To date, there exist significant gaps in the functional understanding of gene expression profiles. Moreover, the processes that drive the profound transcriptional alterations that characterize cancer cells remain mainly elusive. We have used pathway-restricted gene expression profiles derived from RAS oncogene-transformed cells and from RAS-expressing cancer cells to identify regulators downstream of the MAPK pathway.We describe the role of epigenetic regulation exemplified by the control of several immune genes in generic cell lines and colorectal cancer cells, particularly the functional interaction between signaling and DNA methylation. Moreover, we assess the role of the architectural transcription factor high mobility AT-hook 2 (HMGA2) as a regulator of the RAS-responsive transcriptome in ovarian epithelial cells. Finally, we describe an integrated approach combining pathway interference in colorectal cancer cells, gene expression profiling and computational analysis of regulatory elements of deregulated target genes. This strategy resulted in the identification of Y-box binding protein 1 (YBX1) as a regulator of MAPK-dependent proliferation and gene expression. The implications for a therapeutic application of HMGA2 gene silencing and the role of YBX1 as a prognostic factor are discussed.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Epigenomics
  • Gene Expression Profiling*
  • Genes, ras*
  • Humans
  • Microarray Analysis
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction / genetics
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism
  • ras Proteins / genetics*
  • ras Proteins / metabolism


  • Transcription Factors
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases
  • ras Proteins