Deletion of Pim kinases elevates the cellular levels of reactive oxygen species and sensitizes to K-Ras-induced cell killing

J. H. Song, N. An, S. Chatterjee, E. Kistner-Griffin, S. Mahajan, S. Mehrotra, A. S. Kraft

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


The Pim protein kinases contribute to transformation by enhancing the activity of oncogenic Myc and Ras, which drives significant metabolic changes during tumorigenesis. In this report, we demonstrate that mouse embryo fibroblasts (MEFs) lacking all three isoforms of Pim protein kinases, triple knockout (TKO), cannot tolerate the expression of activated K-Ras (K-Ras G12V) and undergo cell death. Transduction of K-Ras G12V into these cells markedly increased the level of cellular reactive oxygen species (ROS). The addition of N-acetyl cysteine attenuated ROS production and reversed the cytotoxic effects of K-Ras G12V in the TKO MEFs. The altered cellular redox state caused by the loss of Pim occurred as a result of lower levels of metabolic intermediates in the glycolytic and pentose phosphate pathways as well as abnormal mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation. TKO MEFs exhibit reduced levels of superoxide dismutase (Sod), glutathione peroxidase 4 (Gpx4) and peroxiredoxin 3 (Prdx3) that render them susceptible to killing by K-Ras G12V -mediated ROS production. In contrast, the transduction of c-Myc into TKO cells can overcome the lack of Pim protein kinases by regulating cellular metabolism and Sod2. In the absence of the Pim kinases, c-Myc transduction permitted K-Ras G12V -induced cell growth by decreasing Ras-induced cellular ROS levels. These results demonstrate that the Pim protein kinases have an important role in regulating cellular redox, metabolism and K-Ras-stimulated cell growth.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3728-3736
Number of pages9
Issue number28
StatePublished - Jul 1 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Cancer Research


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