Expression of transforming Ha-Ras L61 in NIH3T3 cells causes profound morphological alterations which include a disassembly of actin stress fibers. The Ras-induced dissolution of actin stress fibers is blocked by the specific PKC inhibitor GF109203X at concentrations which inhibit the activity of the atypical aPKC isotypes lambda and zeta, whereas lower concentrations of the inhibitor which block conventional and novel PKC isotypes are ineffective. Coexpression of transforming Ha-Ras L61 with kinase-defective, dominant-negative (DN) mutants of aPKC-lambda and aPKC-zeta, as well as antisense constructs encoding RNA-directed against isotype-specific 5' sequences of the corresponding mRNA, abrogates the Ha-Ras-induced reorganization of the actin cytoskeleton. Expression of a kinase-defective, DN mutant of cPKC-alpha was unable to counteract Ras with regard to the dissolution of actin stress fibers. Transfection of cells with constructs encoding constitutively active (CA) mutants of atypical aPKC-lambda and aPKC-zeta lead to a disassembly of stress fibers independent of oncogenic Ha-Ras. Coexpression of (DN) Rac-1 N17 and addition of the phosphatidylinositol 3'-kinase (PI3K) inhibitors wortmannin and LY294002 are in agreement with a tentative model suggesting that, in the signaling pathway from Ha-Ras to the cytoskeleton aPKC-lambda acts upstream of PI3K and Rac-1, whereas aPKC-zeta functions downstream of PI3K and Rac-1. This model is supported by studies demonstrating that cotransfection with plasmids encoding L61Ras and either aPKC-lambda or aPKC-zeta results in a stimulation of the kinase activity of both enzymes. Furthermore, the Ras-mediated activation of PKC-zeta was abrogated by coexpression of DN Rac-1 N17.