Regulation of EGF-receptor expression by EGF and TGF alpha in epidermoid cancer cells is cell type-specific

R K McCulloch, C E Walker, A Chakera, J Jazayeri, P J Leedman

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21 Citations (Scopus)


The epidermal growth factor receptor (EGF-R) and its major ligands EGF and transforming growth factor alpha (TGF alpha) play an important role in the development of multiple human tumors. However, little is known of the comparative effects of each ligand on the regulation of EGF-R expression. To investigate this issue we used two similar human epidermoid cancer cell lines that overexpress EGF-Rs (KB and A431). In KB cells, EGF and TGF alpha increased EGF-R mRNA and protein levels by 2-3 fold over 8 h, associated with a greater than 4-fold stabilization of EGF-R mRNA half-life. EGF and TGF alpha also increased transcription of EGF-R mRNA 2-3-fold in KB cells. In contrast, EGF and TGF alpha only minimally increased EGF-R mRNA and protein in A431 cells, without changing EGF-R mRNA half-life. Basal EGF-R mRNA half-life was 2 fold greater in A431 cells than in KB cells (6-7 h versus 2-3 h), whilst the half-life of a mutant 2.6 kb EGF-R mRNA present in A431 cells, which lacks the 3-untranslated region (3'-UTR), was 2 fold greater than the full-length EGF-R mRNA. RNA gel-shift studies demonstrated that KB and A431 cells contain cytoplasmic proteins that bind specifically to an AU-rich sequence from the 3'-UTR of EGF-R mRNA. Taken together, these results demonstrate that in KB cells EGF and TGF alpha upregulate EGF-R expression at both transcriptional and post-transcriptional levels. The identification of AU-rich EGF-R mRNA-specific RNA-binding proteins from epidermoid cancer cells that overexpress EGF-Rs suggests that regulated RNA-protein interactions involving this region may play a central role in modulating EGF-R mRNA stability.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1265-78
Number of pages14
JournalThe International Journal of Biochemistry & Cell Biology
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 1998
Externally publishedYes


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