Regulation of c‐myc and c‐Ha‐ras oncogene expression by cell shape

Robert E. Farrell, James J. Greene

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14 Scopus citations


The influence of cell shape on the expression of proto‐oncogenes was examined in normal and malignant human cells that varied in their sensitivities to contact‐inhibition of proliferation. Cells were constrained into varying degrees of roundness by plating onto culture surfaces coated with different concentrations of poly(2‐hydroxyethyl methacrylate) (poly[HEMA]) and assayed for proliferation capacity and levels of c‐myc, c‐ras, c‐fos, and c‐fes mRNAs. Proliferation of contact‐inhibited normal CUA‐1 fibroblasts and the variant HT‐IFNr cells was highly coupled to cell shape. As these cells became more rounded, a critical degree of roundess was reached at which proliferation ceased. In contrast, proliferation of non‐contact‐inhibited maligant HT‐1080 cells was independent of cell shape. Northern analysis revealed that expression of c‐myc and c‐ras was highly sensitive to cell shape in the normal CUA‐1 cells but not in the malignant HT‐1080 or variant HT‐IFNr cells. Levels of c‐myc and c‐ras mRNAs declined to nearly undetectable levels in CUA‐1 cells at degrees of roundness that correlated with loss of proliferative ability. Expression of c‐fos and c‐fes oncogenes were independent of cell shape in all cells tested. Quantification of transcription rates by the nuclear run‐off assay showed that shape modulation of c‐myc and c‐ras oncogene expression occurred at the transcriptional level. These data suggest that changes in cell shape can modulate expression of certain oncogenes and that these changes correlate with the cell's ability to proliferate. Moreover, inability to regulate c‐myc and c‐ras oncogene expression is associated with loss of shape‐dependent growth controls and contact inhibition but that loss of this regulation alone is not sufficient to release cells from contact‐inhibited controls. © 1992 Wiley‐Liss, Inc.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)429-435
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Cellular Physiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Nov 1992

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physiology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology


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