Ras-GRF1 is a brain-specific guanine nucleotide exchange factor (GEF) for Ras, whose activity is regulated in response to Ca(2+) influx and G protein-coupled receptor signals. In addition, Ras-GRF1 acts as a GEF for Rac when tyrosine-phosphorylated following G protein-coupled receptor stimulation. However, the mechanisms underlying the regulation of Ras-GRF1 functions remain incompletely understood. We show here that activated ACK1, a nonreceptor tyrosine kinase that belongs to the focal adhesion kinase family, causes tyrosine phosphorylation of Ras-GRF1. On the other hand, kinase-deficient ACK1 exerted no effect. GEF activity of Ras-GRF1 toward Ha-Ras, as defined by in vitro GDP binding and release assays, was augmented after tyrosine phosphorylation by ACK1. In contrast, GEF activity toward Rac1 remained latent, implying that ACK1 does not represent a tyrosine kinase that acts downstream of G protein-coupled receptors. Consistent with enhanced Ras-GEF activity, accumulation of the GTP-bound form of Ras within the cell was shown through the use of Ras-binding domain pull-down assays. Furthermore, Ras-dependent activation of ERK2 by Ras-GRF1 was enhanced following co-expression of activated ACK1. These results implicate ACK1 as an upstream modulator of Ras-GRF1 and suggest a signaling cascade consisting of Cdc42, ACK1, Ras-GRF1, and Ras in neuronal cells.
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