ARF role as tumor suppressor has been challenged in the last years by several findings of different groups ultimately showing that its functions can be strictly context dependent. We previously showed that ARF loss in HeLa cells induces spreading defects, evident as rounded morphology of depleted cells, accompanied by a decrease of phosphorylated Focal Adhesion Kinase (FAK) protein levels and anoikis. These data, together with previous finding that a PKC dependent signalling pathway can lead to ARF stabilization, led us to the hypothesis that ARF functions in cell proliferation might be regulated by phosphorylation. In line with this, we show here that upon spreading ARF is induced through PKC activation. A constitutive-phosphorylated ARF mutant on the conserved threonine 8 (T8D) is able to mediate both cell spreading and FAK activation. Finally, ARF-T8D expression confers growth advantage to cells thus leading to the intriguing hypothesis that ARF phosphorylation could be a mechanism through which pro-proliferative or anti proliferative signals could be transduced inside the cells in both physiological and pathological conditions.
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