Ras mutation cooperates with β-catenin activation to drive bladder tumourigenesis

Cell Death Dis. 2011 Mar 3;2(3):e124. doi: 10.1038/cddis.2011.7.


Mutations in the Ras family of proteins (predominantly in H-Ras) occur in approximately 40% of urothelial cell carcinoma (UCC). However, relatively little is known about subsequent mutations/pathway alterations that allow tumour progression. Indeed, expressing mutant H-Ras within the mouse bladder does not lead to tumour formation, unless this is expressed at high levels. The Wnt signalling pathway is deregulated in approximately 25% of UCC, so we examined if this correlated with the activation of MAPK signalling in human UCC and found a significant correlation. To test the functional significance of this association we examined the impact of combining Ras mutation (H-Ras(Q61L) or K-Ras(G12D)) with an activating β-catenin mutation within the mouse bladder using Cre-LoxP technology. Although alone, neither Ras mutation nor β-catenin activation led to UCC (within 12 months), mice carrying both mutations rapidly developed UCC. Mechanistically this was associated with reduced levels of p21 with dependence on the MAPK signalling pathway. Moreover, tumours from these mice were sensitive to MEK inhibition. Importantly, in human UCC there was a negative correlation between levels of p-ERK and p21 suggesting that p21 accumulation may block tumour progression following Ras mutation. Taken together these data definitively show Ras pathway activation strongly cooperates with Wnt signalling to drive UCC in vivo.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Mutation*
  • Neoplastic Processes
  • Signal Transduction
  • Urinary Bladder Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Urinary Bladder Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Urinary Bladder Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Wnt Proteins / genetics
  • Wnt Proteins / metabolism
  • beta Catenin / genetics
  • beta Catenin / metabolism*
  • ras Proteins / genetics*
  • ras Proteins / metabolism


  • Wnt Proteins
  • beta Catenin
  • ras Proteins