Transmembrane signalling at the epidermal growth factor receptor. Positive regulation by the C-terminal phosphotyrosine residues

M. Magni, A. Pandiella, K. Helin, J. Meldolesi, L. Beguinot

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Mutant epidermal growth factor (EGF) receptors (obtained by substitution of one, two or three C-terminal autophosphorylable tyrosine residues with phenylalanine residues or by deletion of the C-terminal 19 amino acids, including the distal tyrosine) were expressed in mouse NIH-3T3 fibroblast clones at densities comparable ( <25% difference) with those in control clones expressing the wild-type receptor. Total EGF-induced phosphorylation of the mutated receptors was not appreciably changed with respect to controls, whereas autophosphorylation at tyrosine residues was decreased, especially in the double and the triple mutants. In the latter mutant, expression of the EGF-receptor-activated lipolytic enzyme phospholipase Cγ was unchanged, whereas its tyrosine phosphorylation induced by the growth factor was lowered to approx. 25% of that in the controls. In all of the cell clones employed, the accumulation of inositol phosphates induced by treatment with fetal calf serum varied only slightly, whereas the same effect induced by EGF was consistently lowered in those lines expressing mutated receptors. This decrease was moderate for those receptors missing only the distal tyrosine (point and deletion mutants), intermediate in the dual mutants and almost complete in the triple mutants. Likewise, increases in intracellular Ca 2+ concentrations ([Ca 2+]i) induced by fibroblast growth factor were approximately thc same in all of the clones, whereas those induced by EGF were decreased in the mutants, again in proportion to the loss of the phosphorylable C-terminal tyrosine residues. The same trend occurred with membrane hyperpolarization, an effect secondary to the increase in [Ca 2+] via the activation of Ca 2+-dependent K + channels. We conclude that C-terminal autophosphorylable tyrosine residues play a positive role in the regulation of transmembrane signalling at the EGF receptor. The stepwise decrease in signal generation observed in single, double and triple point mutants suggest that the role of phosphotyrosine residues is not in the participation in specific amino acid sequences, but rather in the introduction of strong negative charges at strategic sites of the receptor tail. As a consequence of autophosphorylation, the receptor could become competent for specific association with phospholipase Cγ, with ensuing activation by tyrosine phosphorylation followed by the chains of intracellular responses ultimately leading to DNA synthesis and cell duplication.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)305-311
Number of pages7
JournalBiochemical Journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1991

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry


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