Transient and sustained ERK phosphorylation and nuclear translocation in growth control

Takahito Adachi, Siddhartha Kar, Meifang Wang, Brian I. Carr

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Growth stimulation and inhibition are both associated with tyrosine phosphorylation. We examined the effects of epidermal growth factor (EGF), a growth stimulant, and compound 5 (Cpd 5), a protein-tyrosine phosphatase (PTPase) inhibitor, which inhibits the growth of the same Hep3B hepatoma cells. We found that both EGF and Cpd 5 induced tyrosine phosphorylation of EGF receptor (EGFR) and ERK. However, the phosphorylation caused by EGF was transient and that caused by Cpd 5 was prolonged. Furthermore, Cpd 5 action caused a strong nuclear phospho-ERK signal and induced phospho-Elk-1, a nuclear target of ERK activation, in contrast to the weak effects of EGF. An ERK kinase assay demonstrated that ERK activated by Cpd 5 could phosphorylate its physiological substrate, Elk-1. The MEK inhibitors PD098056 and U0126 abrogated both the induction by Cpd 5 of phospho-ERK, its nuclear translocation and phospho-Elk-1 and also antagonized its growth inhibitory effects. Furthermore, phospho-ERK phosphatase and phospho-Elk-1 activities were lost from nuclear extracts from Cpd 5 treated, but not EGF treated cells. In conclusion, the data show that Cpd 5 causes growth inhibition as a consequence of prolonged ERK and Elk-1 phosphorylation, likely a result of inhibition of multiple PTPases, including those acting on phospho-EGFR, on phospho-ERK, and on phospho-Elk-1, in contrast to the kinase driven transient activation resulting from EGF.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)151-159
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Cellular Physiology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology
  • Physiology


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