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G-protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) induce the phosphorylation of mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinase by actions on any of a number of signal transduction systems. Previous studies have revealed that activation of the G(q)-coupled metabotropic glutamate receptor 5 (mGluR5) induces phosphorylation of the MAP kinase extracellular signal-regulated kinase 2 (ERK2) in cultured rat cortical astrocytes. We performed a series of studies to determine the mechanisms underlying mGluR5-induced phosphorylation of MAP kinase in these cells. Interestingly, our studies suggest that mGluR5-mediated ERK2 phosphorylation is dependent on the activation of G(alphaq) but is not mediated by the activation of phospholipase Cbeta1, activation of protein kinase C, or increases in intracellular calcium. Studies with peptide inhibitors suggest that this response is not dependent on G(betagamma) subunits. However, the activation of ERK2 was dependent on activation of the epidermal growth factor (EGF) receptor and activation of a Src family tyrosine kinase. Furthermore, activation of mGluR5 induced an association of this receptor and the EGF receptor, suggesting the formation of a signaling complex involved in the activation of ERK2. These data suggest that mGluR5 increases ERK2 phosphorylation in astrocytes by a novel mechanism involving the activation of G(alphaq) and both receptor and nonreceptor tyrosine kinases but that is independent of the activation of phospholipase Cbeta1.
Several epithelial tumors display epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) overexpression (with or without EGFR gene amplification) that is often associated with increased production of EGFR ligands. This permits the activation of endogenous tumor EGFR via autocrine mechanisms, resulting in cellular proliferation and tumor growth. Interruption of receptor signaling with bivalent EGFR antibodies or with small molecule inhibitors of the EGFR tyrosine kinase results in inhibition of tumor cell proliferation or viability in vitro and in vivo. One small molecule currently undergoing preclinical and clinical investigation is ZD1839 (Iressa), a synthetic anilinoquinazoline capable of inhibiting EGFR tyrosine kinase in vitro. The early results of clinical trials indicate this drug possesses antitumor activity in certain malignancies of the upper aerodigestive tract.
It is well established that ErbB1 and ErbB2 can cooperate in mammary epithelial cell transformation. Therefore, to understand how ErbB1/ErbB2 signaling contributes to this process, we used the ErbB kinase inhibitor AG1478in ErbB2-dependent BT-474 and SKBR-3 human breast cancer cells. These cells overexpress ErbB2 and also display moderate levels of ErbB1. Treatment with AG1478 resulted in rapid ErbB2 dephosphorylation, reversible G(1) arrest, and interruption of constitutive mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) and phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K)/Akt signaling. Consequently, both MAPK-dependent transcription of cyclin D1 and phosphorylation of the cyclin-dependent kinase (Cdk) inhibitor p27 were inhibited. The inhibition of PI3K/Akt resulted in increased activity of glycogen synthase kinase-3beta, which phosphorylated cyclin D1, potentially reducing its steady-state levels. The loss of cyclin D1 reduced the amount of cyclin D1/Cdk4 complexes that can sequester p27 in the cytosol. This plus the reduced phosphorylation of p27 by MAPK enhanced the stability of p27 that associated with nuclear Cdk2 at high stoichiometry and inhibited its kinase activity. Antisense p27 oligonucleotides decreased p27 levels and abrogated the G(1) arrest induced by AG1478. Similarly, infection with an adenovirus encoding inducible cyclin D1 also counteracted the antiproliferative effect of AG1478. These data imply that: (a) modulation of both p27 and cyclin D1 are required for the growth arrest that results from blockade of the ErbB2 kinase; and (b) ErbB2 overexpressing cells use both MAPK and PI3K/Akt to modulate p27 and cyclin D1 and, hence, subvert the G(1)-to-S transition.
The enzyme, 10-formyltetrahydrofolate dehydrogenase (FDH), converts 10-formyltetrahydrofolate (10-formyl-THF) to tetrahydrofolate in an NADP(+)-dependent dehydrogenase reaction or an NADP(+)-independent hydrolase reaction. The hydrolase reaction occurs in a 310-amino acid long amino-terminal domain of FDH (N(t)-FDH), whereas the dehydrogenase reaction requires the full-length enzyme. The amino-terminal domain of FDH shares some sequence identity with several other enzymes utilizing 10-formyl-THF as a substrate. These enzymes have two strictly conserved residues, aspartate and histidine, in the putative catalytic center. We have shown recently that the conserved aspartate is involved in FDH catalysis. In the present work we studied the role of the conserved histidine, His(106), in FDH function. Site-directed mutagenesis experiments showed that replacement of the histidine with alanine, asparagine, aspartate, glutamate, glutamine, or arginine in N(t)-FDH resulted in expression of insoluble proteins. Replacement of the histidine with another positively charged residue, lysine, produced a soluble mutant with no hydrolase activity. The insoluble mutants refolded from inclusion bodies adopted a conformation inherent to the wild-type N(t)-FDH, but they did not exhibit any hydrolase activity. Substitution of alanine for three non-conserved histidines located close to the conserved one did not reveal any significant changes in the hydrolase activity of N(t)-FDH. Expressed full-length FDH with the substitution of lysine for the His(106) completely lost both the hydrolase and dehydrogenase activities. Thus, our study showed that His(106), besides being an important structural residue, is also directly involved in both the hydrolase and dehydrogenase mechanisms of FDH. Modeling of the putative hydrolase catalytic center/folate-binding site suggested that the catalytic residues, aspartate and histidine, are unlikely to be adjacent to the catalytic cysteine in the aldehyde dehydrogenase catalytic center. We hypothesize that 10-formyl-THF dehydrogenase reaction is not an independent reaction but is a combination of hydrolase and aldehyde dehydrogenase reactions.
HER2/neu (erbB-2) overexpression has been causally associated with tamoxifen resistance in human breast cancer cells. Forced expression of HER2 in MCF-7 breast cancer cells resulted in mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) hyperactivity and tamoxifen resistance. Inhibition of HER2 and MAPKs with AG1478 and U0126, respectively, as well as dominant-negative MEK-1/2 constructs restored the inhibitory effect of tamoxifen on estrogen receptor (ER)-mediated transcription and cell proliferation. Both AG1478 and U0126 also restored the tamoxifen-mediated association of ER with nuclear receptor corepressor (N-CoR) in the antiestrogen-resistant MCF-7 cells. Treatment with a combination of tamoxifen and a HER2 kinase inhibitor reduced tumor MAPK activity and markedly prevented growth of HER2-overexpressing MCF-7 xenografts in athymic mice. Thus, blockade of HER2 and MAPK signaling may enhance tamoxifen action and abrogate antiestrogen resistance in human breast cancer.
Overexpression of ErbB-2/Neu has been causally associated with mammary epithelial transformation. Here we report that blockade of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) kinase with AG-1478 markedly delays breast tumor formation in mouse mammary tumor virus (MMTV)/Neu + MMTV/transforming growth factor alpha bigenic mice. This delay was associated with inhibition of EGFR and Neu signaling, reduction of cyclin-dependent kinase 2 (Cdk2) and mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) activities and cyclin D1, and an increase in the levels of the Cdk inhibitor p27(Kip1). In addition, BrdUrd incorporation into tumor cell nuclei was prevented with no signs of tumor cell apoptosis. These observations prompted us to investigate the stability of p27. Recombinant p27 was degraded rapidly in vitro by untreated but not by AG-1478-treated tumor lysates. Proteasome depletion of the tumor lysates, addition of the specific MEK1/2 inhibitor U-0126, or a T187A mutation in recombinant p27 all prevented p27 degradation. Cdk2 and MAPK precipitates from untreated tumor lysates phosphorylated recombinant wild-type p27 but not the T187A mutant in vitro. Cdk2 and MAPK precipitates from AG-1478-treated tumors were unable to phosphorylate p27 in vitro. These data suggest that increased signaling by ErbB receptors up-regulates MAPK activity, which, in turn, phosphorylates and destabilizes p27, thus contributing to dysregulated cell cycle progression.
We have used quinazoline inhibitors of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) tyrosine kinase to study the link between EGFR signaling and G(1) to S traverse. Treatment of A431 and MDA-468 human tumor cells with 0.1-10 microM AG-1478 inhibited basal and ligand-stimulated EGFR phosphorylation without a decrease in receptor content, EGF-binding sites, or binding affinity. Incubation of A431 cells with 0.1-1 microM AG-1517 abrogated (125)I-EGF internalization. Both AG-1478 and AG-1517 markedly inhibited A431 and MDA-468 colony formation in soft agarose at concentrations between 0.01 and 1 microM. Daily injections of AG-1478 at 50 mg/kg delayed A431 tumor formation in athymic nude mice. A transient exposure of A431 cells to AG-1478 resulted in a dose-dependent up-regulation of the cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor p27, down-regulation of cyclin D1 and of active MAPK, and hypophosphorylation of the retinoblastoma protein (Rb). These changes were temporally associated with recruitment of tumor cells in G(1) phase and a marked reduction of the proportion of cells in S phase. Upon removal of the kinase inhibitor, EGFR and Rb phosphorylation and the levels of cyclin D1 protein were quickly restored, but the cells did not reenter S phase until p27 protein levels were decreased. Phosphorothioate p27 oligonucleotides decreased p27 protein in A431 cells and abrogated the quinazoline-mediated G(1) arrest. Treatment of A431 cells with PD 098509, a synthetic inhibitor of MEK1, inhibited MAPK activity without inducing G(1) arrest or increasing the levels of p27. However, treatment with LY 294002, an inhibitor of phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K), inhibited basal Akt activity, up-regulated p27, and recruited cells in G(1). These data suggest that p27 is required for the growth arrest that follows interruption of the EGFR kinase in receptor-overexpressing cells. In addition, the G(1) arrest and up-regulation of p27 resulting from EGFR blockade are not due to the interruption of MAPK, but to the interruption of constitutively active PI3K function.
Receptor dimerization is critical for signaling by the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) tyrosine kinase. This occurs after binding of the receptor's extracellular domain by ligand or bivalent antibodies. The role of other receptor domains in dimerization is less clear, and there are no examples of dimers induced by direct perturbation of the EGFR kinase domain. Submicromolar concentrations of AG-1478 and AG-1517, quinazolines specific for inhibition of the EGFR kinase, induced reversible receptor dimerization in vitro and in intact A431 cells. Consistent with the inhibitory effect of quinazolines on receptor kinase activity, the dimers formed lacked a detectable Tyr(P) signal. Quinazoline-induced EGFR dimerization was abrogated in vitro by ATP and the ATP analog adenyl-5'-yl imidodiphosphate. Receptors with a single-point mutation in the ATP binding site as well as wild-type EGFR with a covalent modification of the ATP site failed to dimerize in response to AG-1478 and AG-1517. These data suggest that EGFR dimerization can be induced by the interaction of quinazolines at the ATP site in the absence of receptor ligand binding. In SKBR-3 cells, the quinazolines induced the formation of inactive EGFR/ErbB-2 heterodimers, potentially sequestering ErbB-2 from interacting with other coreceptors of the ErbB family. Structural studies of the quinazoline interaction with the EGFR tyrosine kinase domain should allow for an analysis of receptor-specific chemical features required for binding to the ATP site and disruption of signaling, a strategy that can be perhaps applied to other tumor cell receptor systems.
We recently have shown that activated Ras, but not Raf, causes transformation of intestinal (RIE-1, IEC-6) epithelial cells, whereas both activated Ras and Raf transform NIH 3T3 fibroblasts (Oldham, S. M., Clark, G. J., Gangarosa, L. M., Coffey, R. J., and Der, C. J. (1996) Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U. S. A. 93, 6924-6928). The observations that conditioned medium from Ras-, but not Raf-, transfected RIE-1 cells, as well as exogenous transforming growth factor alpha (TGFalpha), promoted morphological transformation of parental RIE-1 cells prompted us to identify epidermal growth factor (EGF) receptor (EGFR) ligands produced by Ras-transformed RIE-1 cells responsible for this autocrine effect. Since studies in fibroblasts have shown that v-Src is transforming, we also determined if v-Src could transform RIE-1 cells. H- or K-Ras-transformed cells secreted significant amounts of TGFalpha protein, and mRNA transcripts for TGFalpha, amphiregulin (AR), and heparin-binding EGF-like growth factor (HB-EGF) were induced. Like Ras, v-Src caused morphological and growth transformation of parental RIE-1 cells. However, TGFalpha protein was not secreted by RIE-1 cells stably expressing v-Src or activated Raf, and only minor increases in EGFR ligand mRNA expression were detected in these cells. A selective EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitor PD153035 attenuated the Ras-, but not Src-, transformed phenotype. Taken together, these observations provide a mechanistic and biochemical basis for the ability of activated Ras, but not activated Raf, to cause transformation of RIE-1 cells. Finally, we suggest that an EGFR-dependent mechanism is necessary for Ras, but not Src, transformation of these intestinal epithelial cells.
We used the phosphatase substrate 2-(5'-chloro-2'-phosphoryloxyphenyl)-6- chloro-4-[3H]-quinazolinone, with standard alkaline phosphatase-mediated immunohistochemical techniques, to visualize a number of antibodies that bind to adult zebrafish retinal tissue. This compound, known as the ELF (enzyme-labeled-fluorescence) phosphatase substrate, produces a precipitate that fluoresces at approximately 500-580 nm (bright yellow-green). We show that the precipitated product from the ELF phosphatase substrate has a number of characteristics that make it superior to fluorescein-labeled secondary reagents. The staining produced with the ELF substrate is much more photostable than that produced by fluorescein-labeled secondary reagents, thus allowing time to examine, focus, and photograph the ELF-labeled tissue under high magnification. Moreover, the ELF precipitate exhibits a Stokes shift of greater than 100 nm, a characteristic that has enabled us to overcome the problem of distinguishing signal from background in this autofluorescent tissue. In addition, we show that the ELF product's large Stokes shift makes the ELF substrate ideal for multicolor applications.