The role of the H-ras oncogene in radiation resistance and metastasis

Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 1990 Apr;18(4):849-59. doi: 10.1016/0360-3016(90)90407-b.


The sensitivity of tumor cells to the killing effects of ionizing radiation is thought to be one of the major determinants of curability of tumors in patients treated with radiation therapy. This paper reviews the evidence from our laboratory and other groups which supports a role for oncogenes in the induction of radioresistance in cultured mammalian cells. Primary rat embryo cells (REC) were chosen as a model system in which the effects on radiation resistance of the H-ras oncogene could be studied on a uniform genetic background. These cells offered several useful advantages. The cells prior to transformation are diploid and because they have been in culture only for a few passages prior to transformation with the oncogene it is unlikely that any preexisting mutation affecting radiation response could be present. Additionally, the use of REC permitted the study of the effects of synergism between oncogenes on the induction of the radioresistant phenotype. The results show that the activated H-ras oncogene induces radiation resistance in primary rat cells after transformation, but that the effect of the oncogene itself is small. However, the myc oncogene, which has no effect on radiation resistance by itself, appears to have a synergistic effect on the induction of radiation resistance by H-ras. Radiation resistance induced by H-ras plus myc is characterized by an increase in the slope of the curve at high doses but there is also a large effect within the shoulder region of the radiation survival curve. The AdenoE1A oncogene which will also act synergistically with ras in transformation assays plays a less clear-cut role in assays of radiation resistance. The H-ras oncogene is also known not only to transform cells but also to induce metastatic behavior in the tumors which form after these transformed cells are injected into syngeneic animals or nude mice. We have also shown in our primary rat embryo cell system that the induction of metastatic behavior in transformed cells, like the induction of radioresistance depends on a complex interaction between oncogenes and the cellular background. This evidence will be reviewed to demonstrate some of the analogies between radiation resistance and metastasis as examples of the complex alterations in cellular phenotype which occur after oncogene transfection.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Line
  • Cell Line, Transformed
  • Genes, ras / physiology*
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Neoplasm Metastasis / genetics*
  • Oncogenes / physiology
  • Radiation Tolerance / genetics*
  • Rats