Identification of an oncogenic RAB protein

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Science  03 Sep 2015:
DOI: 10.1126/science.aaa4903

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In an shRNA screen for genes that affect AKT phosphorylation, we identified the RAB35 small GTPase—a protein previously implicated in endomembrane trafficking—as a regulator of the PI3K pathway. Depletion of RAB35 suppresses AKT phosphorylation in response to growth factors, whereas expression of a dominant active GTPase-deficient mutant of RAB35 constitutively activates the PI3K/AKT pathway. RAB35 functions downstream of growth factor receptors and upstream of PDK1 and mTORC2 and co-purifies with PI3K in immunoprecipitation assays. Two somatic RAB35 mutations found in human tumors generate alleles that constitutively activate PI3K/AKT signaling, suppress apoptosis, and transform cells in a PI3K-dependent manner. Furthermore, oncogenic RAB35 is sufficient to drive PDGFRα to LAMP2-positive endomembranes in the absence of ligand, suggesting there may be latent oncogenic potential in dysregulated endomembrane trafficking.

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