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Mol. Cell. Biol. 22 (20): 7279-7290

Copyright © 2002 by the American Society for Microbiology. All rights reserved.

Endosomal Signaling of Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor Stimulates Signal Transduction Pathways Leading to Cell Survival

Yi Wang, Steven Pennock, Xinmei Chen, and Zhixiang Wang*

Department of Cell Biology and Signal Transduction Research Group, Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta T6G 2H7, Canada

Received for publication 4 June 2002. Revision received 2 July 2002. Accepted for publication 22 July 2002.

Abstract: In spite of intensified efforts to understand cell signaling from endosomes, there is no direct evidence demonstrating that endosomal signaling is sufficient to activate signal transduction pathways and no evidence to demonstrate that endosomal signaling is able to produce a biological outcome. The lack of breakthrough is due in part to the lack of means to generate endosomal signals without plasma membrane signaling. In this paper, we report the establishment of a system to specifically activate epidermal growth factor (EGF) receptor (EGFR) when it endocytoses into endosomes. We treated cells with EGF in the presence of AG-1478, a specific EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitor, and monensin, which blocks the recycling of EGFR. This treatment led to the internalization of nonactivated EGF-EGFR complexes into endosomes. The endosome-associated EGFR was then activated by removing AG-1478 and monensin. During this procedure we did not observe any surface EGFR phosphorylation. We also achieved specific activation of endosome-associated EGFR without using monensin. By using this system, we provided original evidence demonstrating that (i) the endosome can serve as a nucleation site for the formation of signaling complexes, (ii) endosomal EGFR signaling is sufficient to activate the major signaling pathways leading to cell proliferation and survival, and (iii) endosomal EGFR signaling is sufficient to suppress apoptosis induced by serum withdrawal.


* Corresponding author. Mailing address: Department of Cell Biology and Signal Transduction Research Group, Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta T6G 2H7, Canada. Phone: (780) 492-0710. Fax: (780) 492-0450. E-mail: zwang{at}cellbnt.ualberta.ca.


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