A role for Pak protein kinases in Schwann cell transformation

Yi Tang, Sunil Marwaha, J. Lynn Rutkowski, Gihan I. Tennekoon, Peter C. Phillips, Jeffrey Field

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

91 Scopus citations


Neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1), a common autosomal dominant disorder caused by loss of the NF1 gene, is characterized clinically by neurofibromas and more rarely by neurofibrosarcomas. Neurofibromin, the protein encoded by NF1, possesses an intrinsic GTPase accelerating activity for the Ras proto- oncogene. Through this activity, it is a negative regulator of Ras. The Pak protein kinase is a candidate for a downstream signaling protein that may mediate Ras signals because it is activated by Rac and Cdc42, two small G proteins required for Ras signaling. Here, we use Pak mutants to explore the role of Pak in Ras signaling in Schwann cells, the cells affected in NFI. Whereas an activated Pak mutant does not transform cells, dominant negative Pak mutants are potent inhibitors of Ras transformation of rat Schwann cells and of a neurofibrosarcoma cell line from an NFI patient. Although activated Pak stimulated jun-N-terminal kinase, inhibition of Ras transformation by dominant negative Pak did not require inhibition of jun-N-terminal kinase. Instead, the Pak mutants appeared to inhibit transformation by preventing Ras activation of the ERK/mitogen-activated protein kinase cascade. These results have implications for our understanding of NF1 because a neurofibrosarcoma cell line derived from a patient with NFI was reverted by stable expression of the Pak dominant negative mutants.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5139-5144
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number9
StatePublished - 28 Apr 1998
Externally publishedYes


  • Neurofibromatosis
  • Neurofibrosarcoma
  • Rac
  • Ras


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