Engineered epidermal growth factor mutants with faster binding on-rates correlate with enhanced receptor activation.
ABSTRACT: Receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs) regulate critical cell signaling pathways, yet the properties of their cognate ligands that influence receptor activation are not fully understood. There is great interest in parsing these complex ligand-receptor relationships using engineered proteins with altered binding properties. Here we focus on the interaction between two engineered epidermal growth factor (EGF) mutants and the EGF receptor (EGFR), a model member of the RTK superfamily. We found that EGF mutants with faster kinetic on-rates stimulate increased EGFR activation compared to wild-type EGF. These findings support previous predictions that faster association rates correlate with enhanced receptor activity.
Project description:Epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) regulates many crucial cellular programs, with seven different activating ligands shaping cell signaling in distinct ways. Using crystallography and other approaches, we show how the EGFR ligands epiregulin (EREG) and epigen (EPGN) stabilize different dimeric conformations of the EGFR extracellular region. As a consequence, EREG or EPGN induce less stable EGFR dimers than EGF-making them partial agonists of EGFR dimerization. Unexpectedly, this weakened dimerization elicits more sustained EGFR signaling than seen with EGF, provoking responses in breast cancer cells associated with differentiation rather than proliferation. Our results reveal how responses to different EGFR ligands are defined by receptor dimerization strength and signaling dynamics. These findings have broad implications for understanding receptor tyrosine kinase (RTK) signaling specificity. Our results also suggest parallels between partial and/or biased agonism in RTKs and G-protein-coupled receptors, as well as new therapeutic opportunities for correcting RTK signaling output.
Project description:An outstanding question is how receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs) determine different cell-fate decisions despite sharing the same signalling cascades. Here, we uncovered an unexpected mechanism of RTK trafficking in this process. By quantitative high-resolution FRET microscopy, we found that phosphorylated epidermal growth factor receptor (p-EGFR) is not randomly distributed but packaged at constant mean amounts in endosomes. Cells respond to higher EGF concentrations by increasing the number of endosomes but keeping the mean p-EGFR content per endosome almost constant. By mathematical modelling, we found that this mechanism confers both robustness and regulation to signalling output. Different growth factors caused specific changes in endosome number and size in various cell systems and changing the distribution of p-EGFR between endosomes was sufficient to reprogram cell-fate decision upon EGF stimulation. We propose that the packaging of p-RTKs in endosomes is a general mechanism to ensure the fidelity and specificity of the signalling response.
Project description:Heparin-binding epidermal growth factor (EGF)-like growth factor (HBEGF) is a ligand for the EGF receptor (EGFR), one of the most commonly amplified receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs) in glioblastoma (GBM). While HBEGF has been found to be expressed in a subset of malignant gliomas, its sufficiency for glioma initiation has not been evaluated. In this study, we demonstrate that HBEGF can initiate GBM in mice in the context of Ink4a/Arf and Pten loss, and that these tumors are similar to the classical GBM subtype observed in patients. Isogenic astrocytes from these mice showed activation not only of Egfr but also the RTK Axl in response to HBEGF stimulation. Deletion of either Egfr or Axl decreased the tumorigenic properties of HBEGF-transformed cells; however, only EGFR was able to rescue the phenotype in cells lacking both RTKs indicating that Egfr is required for activation of Axl in this context. Silencing of HBEGF in vivo resulted in tumor regression and significantly increased survival, suggesting that HBEGF may be a clinically relevant target.
Project description:Receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs) and protein phosphatases comprise protein families that play crucial roles in cell signaling. We used two protein-protein interaction (PPI) approaches, the membrane yeast two-hybrid (MYTH) and the mammalian membrane two-hybrid (MaMTH), to map the PPIs between human RTKs and phosphatases. The resulting RTK-phosphatase interactome reveals a considerable number of previously unidentified interactions and suggests specific roles for different phosphatase families. Additionally, the differential PPIs of some protein tyrosine phosphatases (PTPs) and their mutants suggest diverse mechanisms of these PTPs in the regulation of RTK signaling. We further found that PTPRH and PTPRB directly dephosphorylate EGFR and repress its downstream signaling. By contrast, PTPRA plays a dual role in EGFR signaling: besides facilitating EGFR dephosphorylation, it enhances downstream ERK signaling by activating SRC. This comprehensive RTK-phosphatase interactome study provides a broad and deep view of RTK signaling.
Project description:It is increasingly appreciated that 3D cultures are more predictive of in vivo therapeutic efficacy than 2D cultures. Using in vitro 3D type I collagen cultures of human colorectal cancer (CRC) cell line HCA-7 derivatives CC, SC, and CC-CR, we previously identified that activation of receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs) MET and RON contributed to resistance to the EGF receptor (EGFR)-directed therapeutic antibody cetuximab. The de novo mode of cetuximab resistance in SC cells could be overcome by crizotinib, a multi-RTK inhibitor that also targets MET and RON. We now show that crizotinib also overcomes acquired cetuximab resistance in CC-CR cells. Phospho-RTK array analysis showed increased phosphorylation of several RTKs, including MET and RON, in SC and CC-CR cells compared to cetuximab-sensitive CC counterparts. Furthermore, other multi-RTK inhibitors cabozantinib and BMS-777607 helped overcome cetuximab resistance, as measured by 3D colony growth and activation state of key signaling molecules. Conversely, addition of RTK ligands HGF and NRG1 induced cetuximab resistance in CC cells, which could be blocked by addition of crizotinib. We further determined the mechanism of the cooperative effect of cetuximab and crizotinib by FACS analysis and observed increased cell cycle arrest in G1 phase in cetuximab-resistant CRC 3D cultures. Finally, we show that crizotinib overcomes cetuximab resistance in vivo in SC nude mice xenografts. Thus, our work shows that multi-RTK inhibition strategy is a potent, broadly applicable strategy to overcome resistance to EGFR-targeted therapeutics in CRC and highlights the relevance of 3D cultures in these studies. Statement of implication: Using in vitro 3D CRC cultures and in vivo CRC xenografts, we show that parallel inhibition of multiple RTKs with small molecule inhibitors overcomes de novo and acquired resistance to EGFR-directed therapies in CRC.
Project description:Glioblastoma (GBM) is distinguished by a high degree of intratumoral heterogeneity, which extends to the pattern of expression and amplification of receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs). Although most GBMs harbor RTK amplifications, clinical trials of small-molecule inhibitors targeting individual RTKs have been disappointing to date. Activation of multiple RTKs within individual GBMs provides a theoretical mechanism of resistance; however, the spectrum of functional RTK dependence among tumor cell subpopulations in actual tumors is unknown. We investigated the pattern of heterogeneity of RTK amplification and functional RTK dependence in GBM tumor cell subpopulations. Analysis of The Cancer Genome Atlas GBM dataset identified 34 of 463 cases showing independent focal amplification of two or more RTKs, most commonly platelet-derived growth factor receptor ? (PDGFRA) and epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR). Dual-color fluorescence in situ hybridization was performed on eight samples with EGFR and PDGFRA amplification, revealing distinct tumor cell subpopulations amplified for only one RTK; in all cases these predominated over cells amplified for both. Cell lines derived from coamplified tumors exhibited genotype selection under RTK-targeted ligand stimulation or pharmacologic inhibition in vitro. Simultaneous inhibition of both EGFR and PDGFR was necessary for abrogation of PI3 kinase pathway activity in the mixed population. DNA sequencing of isolated subpopulations establishes a common clonal origin consistent with late or ongoing divergence of RTK genotype. This phenomenon is especially common among tumors with PDGFRA amplification: overall, 43% of PDGFRA-amplified GBM were found to have amplification of EGFR or the hepatocyte growth factor receptor gene (MET) as well.
Project description:Acquired resistance to conventional and targeted therapies is becoming a major hindrance in cancer management. It is increasingly clear that cancer cells are able to evolve and rewire canonical signalling pathways to their advantage, thus evading cell death and promoting cell invasion. The Axl receptor tyrosine kinase (RTK) has been shown to modulate acquired resistance to EGFR-targeted therapies in both breast and lung cancers. Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) is a highly infiltrative and invasive form of brain tumour with little response to therapy. Both Axl and EGFR have been identified as major players in gliomagenesis and invasiveness. However, the mechanisms underlying a potential signalling crosstalk between EGFR and Axl RTKs are unknown. The purpose of this study was to investigate this novel and unconventional interaction among RTKs of different families in human GBM cells. With the use of western blotting, in vitro kinase activity, co-immunoprecipitation and bimolecular fluorescence complementation assays, we show that EGF stimulates activation of Axl kinase and that there is a hetero-interaction between the two RTKs. Through small interfering RNA knockdown and quantitative PCR screening, we identified distinct gene expression patterns in GBM cells that were specifically regulated by signalling from EGFR-EGFR, Axl-Axl and EGFR-Axl RTK parings. These included genes that promote invasion, which were activated only via the EGFR-Axl axis (MMP9), while EGFR-EGFR distinctly regulated the cell cycle and Axl-Axl regulated invasion. Our findings provide critical insights into the role of EGFR-Axl hetero-dimerisation in cancer cells and reveal regulation of cell invasion via Axl as a novel function of EGFR signalling.
Project description:Concurrent amplifications of EGFR and PDGFRA have been reported in up to 5% of glioblastoma (GBM) and it remains unclear why such independent amplification events, and associated receptor overexpression, would be adaptive during glioma evolution. Here, we document that EGFR and PDGFRA protein co-expression occurs in 37% of GBM. There is wide cell-to-cell variation in the expressions of these receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs) in stable tumor sphere lines, frequently defining tumor cell subpopulations with distinct sensitivities to growth factors and RTK inhibitors. We also find evidence for functional transactivation of PDGFRA by EGFR and EGF-induced receptor heterodimerization, both of which are abolished by EGFR inhibitors. These results indicate that GBM growth responses to targeted therapies previously tested in clinical trials are strongly influenced by the balance of EGFR and PDGFRA activation in individual cells, which is heterogeneous at baseline.
Project description:The ubiquitin ligase Cbl mediates ubiquitination of activated receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs) and interacts with endocytic scaffold complexes, including CIN85/endophilins, to facilitate RTK endocytosis and degradation. Several mechanisms regulate the functions of Cbl to ensure the fine-tuning of RTK signalling and cellular homeostasis. One regulatory mechanism involves the binding of Cbl to Sprouty2, which sequesters Cbl away from activated epidermal growth factor receptors (EGFRs). Here, we show that Sprouty2 associates with CIN85 and acts at the interface between Cbl and CIN85 to inhibit EGFR downregulation. The CIN85 SH3 domains A and C bind specifically to proline-arginine motifs present in Sprouty2. Intact association between Sprouty2, Cbl and CIN85 is required for inhibition of EGFR endocytosis as well as EGF-induced differentiation of PC12 cells. Moreover, Sprouty4, which lacks CIN85-binding sites, does not inhibit EGFR downregulation, providing a molecular explanation for functional differences between Sprouty isoforms. Sprouty2 therefore acts as an inducible inhibitor of EGFR downregulation by targeting both the Cbl and CIN85 pathways.
Project description:Neisseria meningitidis, the causative agent of meningitis and septicemia, attaches to and invades various cell types. Both steps induce and/or require tyrosine phosphorylation of host cell proteins. Here, we used a phospho array platform to identify active receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs) and key signaling nodes in N. meningitidis-infected brain endothelial cells to decipher RTK-dependent signaling pathways necessary for bacterial uptake. We detected several activated RTKs, including the ErbB family receptors epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), ErbB2, and ErbB4. We found that pharmacological inhibition and genetic ablation of ErbB receptor tyrosine phosphorylation and expression resulted in decreased bacterial uptake and heterologous expression of EGFR, ErbB2, or ErbB4 in Chinese ovary hamster (CHO-K1) cells, which do not express of EGFR and ErbB4; the decrease caused a significant increase in meningococcal invasion. Activation of EGFR and ErbB4 was mediated by transactivation via the common ligand HB-EGF (heparin-binding EGF-like ligand), which was significantly elevated in infected cell culture supernatants. We furthermore determined that N. meningitidis induced phosphorylation of EGFR at Tyr845 independent of ligand binding, which required c-Src activation and was involved in mediating uptake of N. meningitidis into eukaryotic cells. Increased uptake was repressed by expression of EGFR Y845F, which harbored a point mutation in the kinase domain. In addition, activation of ErbB4 at its autophosphorylation site, Tyr1284, and phosphorylation of ErbB2 Thr686 were observed. Altogether, our results provide evidence that EGFR, ErbB2, and ErbB4 are activated in response to N. meningitidis infection and shed new light on the role of ErbB signaling in meningococcal infection biology.