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The activation of ERK1/2 MAP kinases in glioblastoma pathobiology and its relationship with EGFRamplification


Miguel Cerdá-Nicolás, MD, Facultad de Medicina y Odontología, Avda. Blasco Ibañez, 15 Valencia 46010, Spain. Email:


The ERK1/2 activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathway is a critical signaling system that mediates ligand-stimulated signals for the induction of cell proliferation, differentiation and survival, involved in malignant transformation. The purpose of this study was to determine the activation of ERK1/2 in this tumor, and to determine the relationship of ERK1/2 activation with the amplification/overexpression of EGFR as well as with 9p21 locus gene alterations, both of which are genetic factors frequently associated with glioblastoma. We used immunohistochemistry and Western blot analysis to analyze the activation of ERK1/2 in 22 patients with glioblastoma, and we studied the amplification/overexpression of EGFR; as well as the molecular alterations in 9p21 locus genes. Positive immunostaining ERK1/2 was observed in 86.4% of the tumors, displaying mainly nuclear immunolocalization; and by immunoblotting, ERK1/2 was activated in 68% of the cases. The 70% of cases with EGFR amplification presented activated ERK1/2. The joint presence of amplified EGFR and alterations in the 9p21 genes was observed in 50% of the cases, whereas the simultaneous occurrence of these two phenomena with the activation of ERK1/2 was observed in 40% of the cases. Our results suggest that the activation of ERK1/2 is implicated in the pathobiology of glioblastoma. This activation of ERK1/2 is probably related in part to the amplification of EGFR as well as to alterations in 9p21 locus genes (homozygous deletion and promoter methylation). However, the activation of ERK1/2 also involves pathways that are independent of the EGFR.