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Biological Rationale for Targeting MEK/ERK Pathways in Anti-Cancer Therapy and to Potentiate Tumour Responses to Radiation

1
Dipartimento di Scienze Radiologiche, Oncologiche e Anatomo-Patologiche della Sapienza, Università di Roma, Viale Regina Elena, 324, 00161 Roma, Italy
2
Dipartimento di Scienze Cliniche Applicate e Biotecnologiche, Università degli Studi dell’Aquila, Coppito II Via Vetoio, 67100 L’Aquila, Italy
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2019, 20(10), 2530; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms20102530
Received: 18 April 2019 / Revised: 16 May 2019 / Accepted: 21 May 2019 / Published: 23 May 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue ERK Signaling Pathway in Diseases)
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Abstract

ERK1 and ERK2 (ERKs), two extracellular regulated kinases (ERK1/2), are evolutionary-conserved and ubiquitous serine-threonine kinases involved in regulating cell signalling in normal and pathological tissues. The expression levels of these kinases are almost always different, with ERK2 being the more prominent. ERK1/2 activation is fundamental for the development and progression of cancer. Since their discovery, much research has been dedicated to their role in mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPK) pathway signalling and in their activation by mitogens and mutated RAF or RAS in cancer cells. In order to gain a better understanding of the role of ERK1/2 in MAPK pathway signalling, many studies have been aimed at characterizing ERK1/2 splicing isoforms, mutants, substrates and partners. In this review, we highlight the differences between ERK1 and ERK2 without completely discarding the hypothesis that ERK1 and ERK2 exhibit functional redundancy. The main goal of this review is to shed light on the role of ERK1/2 in targeted therapy and radiotherapy and highlight the importance of identifying ERK inhibitors that may overcome acquired resistance. This is a highly relevant therapeutic issue that needs to be addressed to combat tumours that rely on constitutively active RAF and RAS mutants and the MAPK pathway. View Full-Text
Keywords: MAPK signalling; ERK1/2 splicing isoforms; ERK2 mutants; MAPK inhibitor; chemo- and radio-resistance MAPK signalling; ERK1/2 splicing isoforms; ERK2 mutants; MAPK inhibitor; chemo- and radio-resistance
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Marampon, F.; Ciccarelli, C.; Zani, B.M. Biological Rationale for Targeting MEK/ERK Pathways in Anti-Cancer Therapy and to Potentiate Tumour Responses to Radiation. Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2019, 20, 2530.

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