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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

The inhibitory effect of (-)-epigallocatechin gallate on activation of the epidermal growth factor receptor is associated with altered lipid order in HT29 colon cancer cells.

(-)-Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), a major biologically active constituent of green tea, inhibits activation of the epidermal growth factor (EGF) receptor (EGFR) and downstream signaling pathways in several types of human cancer cells, but the precise mechanism is not known. Because several plasma membrane-associated receptor tyrosine kinases (RTK) including EGFR are localized in detergent-insoluble ordered membrane domains, so-called "lipid rafts," we examined whether the inhibitory effect of EGCG on activation of the EGFR is associated with changes in membrane lipid order in HT29 colon cancer cells. First, we did cold Triton X-100 solubility assays. Phosphorylated (activated) EGFR was found only in the Triton X-100-insoluble (lipid raft) fraction, whereas total cellular EGFR was present in the Triton X-100-soluble fraction. Pretreatment with EGCG inhibited the binding of Alexa Fluor 488-labeled EGF to the cells and also inhibited EGF-induced dimerization of the EGFR. To examine possible effects of EGCG on membrane lipid organization, we labeled the cells with the fluorescent lipid analogue 1, 1'-dihexadecyl-3,3,3',3'-tetramethylindocarbocyanine perchlorate, which preferentially incorporates into ordered membrane domains in cells and found that subsequent treatment with EGCG caused a marked reduction in the Triton X-100-resistant membrane fraction. Polyphenon E, a mixture of green tea catechins, had a similar effect but (-)-epicatechin (EC), the biologically inactive compound, did not significantly alter the Triton X-100 solubility properties of the membrane. Furthermore, we found that EGCG but not EC caused dramatic changes in the function of bilayer-incorporated gramicidin channels. Taken together, these findings suggest that EGCG inhibits the binding of EGF to the EGFR and the subsequent dimerization and activation of the EGFR by altering membrane organization. These effects may also explain the ability of EGCG to inhibit activation of other membrane-associated RTKs, and they may play a critical role in the anticancer effects of this and related compounds.[1]


  1. The inhibitory effect of (-)-epigallocatechin gallate on activation of the epidermal growth factor receptor is associated with altered lipid order in HT29 colon cancer cells. Adachi, S., Nagao, T., Ingolfsson, H.I., Maxfield, F.R., Andersen, O.S., Kopelovich, L., Weinstein, I.B. Cancer Res. (2007) [Pubmed]
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