MAPK (mitogen-activated protein kinase) pathways constitute major regulators of cellular transcriptional programmes. We analysed the ERK1,2 (extracellular-signal-regulated kinase 1,2) transcriptome in a non-transformed MEC (mammary epithelial cell) line, MCF-12A, utilizing rAd MEK1EE, a recombinant adenovirus encoding constitutively active MEK1 (MAPK/ERK kinase 1). rAd MEK1EE infection induced morphological changes and DNA synthesis which were inhibited by the MEK1,2 inhibitor PD184352. Hierarchical clustering of data derived from seven time points over 24 h identified 430 and 305 co-ordinately up-regulated and down-regulated genes respectively. c-Myc binding sites were identified in the promoters of most of these up-regulated genes. A total of 46 candidate effectors of the Raf/MEK/ERK1,2 pathway in MECs were identified by comparing our dataset with previously reported Raf-1-regulated genes. These analyses led to the identification of a suite of growth factors co-ordinately induced by MEK1EE, including multiple ErbB ligands, vascular endothelial growth factor and PHRP (parathyroid hormone-related protein). PHRP is the primary mediator of humoral hypercalcaemia of malignancy, and has been implicated in metastasis to bone. We demonstrate that PHRP is secreted by MEK1EE-expressing cells. This secretion is inhibited by PD184352, but not by ErbB inhibitors. Our results suggest that, in addition to anti-proliferative properties, MEK1,2 inhibitors may be anti-angiogenic and possess therapeutic utility in the treatment of PHRP-positive tumours.

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