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

Intracellular processing of epidermal growth factor and its effect on ligand-receptor interactions.

When normal human fibroblasts are brought to a steady state with 125I-labeled epidermal growth factor (125I-EGF), greater than 90% of the radioactivity is intracellular. We investigated this material to determine whether the 125I-EGF is intact or degraded. Our results show that 125I-EGF is rapidly processed after internalization and can be resolved into four peaks by native gel electrophoresis. These different forms were isolated and tested for their ability to bind to cell-surface EGF receptors. The first processed form was fully capable of binding to EGF receptors, but the second processed form could not. The third form was a collection of small degradation products. We calculated that at steady state about 60% of internalized "125I-EGF" was in a form still able to bind to EGF receptors. We then investigated the ability of different reported inhibitors of EGF "degradation" to block the processing of EGF. Although inhibitors of cathepsin B (leupeptin, antipain, N alpha-p-tosyl-L-lysine chloromethyl ketone, and chymostatin) were able to inhibit the release of monoiodotyrosine from treated cells in a time- and concentration-dependent manner, they had little effect on the processing step that apparently inactivates 125I-EGF. In contrast, agents that raised intravesicular pH, such as methylamine and monensin, inhibited the initial steps in EGF processing as well as the later steps. Low temperatures inhibited the transfer of 125I-EGF to the lysosomes and inhibited the conversion of EGF to a nonbindable form, but had little effect on the initial processing. We conclude that the intracellular processing of EGF is a multistep process that is initiated prior to lysosomal fusion, involves cathepsin B activity, and requires an acidic pH. In addition, many of the protease inhibitors that have been utilized to investigate the role of EGF degradation in mitogenesis do not block the conversion of EGF to a form that is apparently unable to interact with its receptor.[1]


  1. Intracellular processing of epidermal growth factor and its effect on ligand-receptor interactions. Wiley, H.S., VanNostrand, W., McKinley, D.N., Cunningham, D.D. J. Biol. Chem. (1985) [Pubmed]
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