The Raf-MEK-ERK cascade represents a common pathway for alteration of intracellular calcium by Ras and protein kinase C in cardiac myocytes.


Ras and protein kinase C (PKC), which regulate the Raf-MEK-ERK cascade, may participate in the development of cardiac hypertrophy, a condition characterized by diminished and prolonged contractile calcium transients. To directly examine the influence of this pathway on intracellular calcium ([Ca2+]i), cardiac myocytes were cotransfected with effectors of this pathway and with green fluorescent protein, which allowed the living transfected myocytes to be identified and examined for [Ca2+]i via indo-1. Transfection with constitutively active Ras (Ha-RasV12) increased cell size, decreased expression of the myofibrils and the calcium-regulatory enzyme SERCA2, and reduced the magnitude and prolonged the decay phase of the contractile [Ca2+]i transients. Similar effects on [Ca2+]i were obtained with Ha-RasV12S35, a Ras mutant that selectively couples to Raf, and with constitutively active Raf. In contrast, Ha-RasV12C40, a Ras mutant that activates the phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase pathway, had a lesser effect. The PKC-activating phorbol ester, phorbol 12-myristate 13-acetate, also prolonged the contractile [Ca2+]i transients. Cotransfection with dnMEK inhibited the effects of Ha-RasV12, Raf, and phorbol 12-myristate 13-acetate on [Ca2+]i. The effects of Ha-RasV12 and Raf on [Ca2+]i were also counteracted by SERCA2 overexpression. Both Ras and PKC may thus regulate cardiac [Ca2+]i via the Raf-MEK-ERK cascade, and this pathway may represent a critical determinant of cardiac physiological function.

The Journal of biological chemistry