Kinetics of receptor tyrosine kinase activation define ERK signaling dynamics.
ABSTRACT: In responses to activation of receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs), crucial cell fate decisions depend on the duration and dynamics of ERK signaling. In PC12 cells, epidermal growth factor (EGF) induces transient ERK activation that leads to cell proliferation, whereas nerve growth factor (NGF) promotes sustained ERK activation and cell differentiation. These differences have typically been assumed to reflect distinct feedback mechanisms in the Raf-MEK-ERK signaling network, with the receptors themselves acting as simple upstream inputs. We failed to confirm the expected differences in feedback type when investigating transient versus sustained signaling downstream of the EGF receptor (EGFR) and NGF receptor (TrkA). Instead, we found that ERK signaling faithfully followed RTK dynamics when receptor signaling was modulated in different ways. EGFR activation kinetics, and consequently ERK signaling dynamics, were switched from transient to sustained when receptor internalization was inhibited with drugs or mutations, or when cells expressed a chimeric receptor likely to have impaired dimerization. In addition, EGFR and ERK signaling both became more sustained when substoichiometric levels of erlotinib were added to reduce duration of EGFR kinase activation. Our results argue that RTK activation kinetics play a crucial role in determining MAP kinase cascade signaling dynamics and cell fate decisions, and that signaling outcome can be modified by activating a given RTK in different ways.
Project description:Stimulation of PC-12 cells with epidermal (EGF) versus nerve (NGF) growth factors (GFs) biases the distribution between transient and sustained single-cell ERK activity states, and between proliferation and differentiation fates within a cell population. We report that fibroblast GF (FGF2) evokes a distinct behavior that consists of a gradually changing population distribution of transient/sustained ERK signaling states in response to increasing inputs in a dose response. Temporally controlled GF perturbations of MAPK signaling dynamics applied using microfluidics reveal that this wider mix of ERK states emerges through the combination of an intracellular feedback, and competition of FGF2 binding to FGF receptors (FGFRs) and heparan sulfate proteoglycan (HSPG) co-receptors. We show that the latter experimental modality is instructive for model selection using a Bayesian parameter inference. Our results provide novel insights into how different receptor tyrosine kinase (RTK) systems differentially wire the MAPK network to fine-tune fate decisions at the cell population level.
Project description:Transient versus sustained ERK MAP kinase (MAPK) activation dynamics induce proliferation versus differentiation in response to epidermal (EGF) or nerve (NGF) growth factors in PC-12 cells. Duration of ERK activation has therefore been proposed to specify cell fate decisions. Using a biosensor to measure ERK activation dynamics in single living cells reveals that sustained EGF/NGF application leads to a heterogeneous mix of transient and sustained ERK activation dynamics in distinct cells of the population, different than the population average. EGF biases toward transient, while NGF biases toward sustained ERK activation responses. In contrast, pulsed growth factor application can repeatedly and homogeneously trigger ERK activity transients across the cell population. These datasets enable mathematical modeling to reveal salient features inherent to the MAPK network. Ultimately, this predicts pulsed growth factor stimulation regimes that can bypass the typical feedback activation to rewire the system toward cell differentiation irrespective of growth factor identity.
Project description:EGF and HRG, growth factor ligands for EGFR and ErbB3/4 receptor, induce transient and sustained ERK activity associated with cellular proliferation and differentiation of MCF-7 cells, respectively. To rigorously analyze the effect of ERK signal duration for mRNA expression dynamics and its relationship with cell determination, we modified the EGF-triggered ERK signal duration by changing the EGFR activation dynamics by impairing the ubiquitination and degradation process. Mutation of the six lysine residues (6KR; K692, K713, K730, K843, K905 and K946) of the EGFR responsible for ubiquitin conjugation has shown sustained phosphorylation of the receptor (Huang et al, 2006; Goh et al, 2010). Therefore we constructed the MCF-7 cell lines that stably express 6KR EGFR (6KR), and analyzed signaling and mRNA expression dynamics in response to EGF and HRG.
Project description:PC12 cells are a well-established model to study how differences in signal transduction duration can elicit distinct cell behaviors. Epidermal growth factor (EGF) activates transient ERK signaling in PC12 cells that lasts 30-60 min, which in turn promotes proliferation; nerve growth factor (NGF) activates more sustained ERK signaling that lasts 4-6 h, which in turns induces neuronal differentiation. Data presented here extend a previous study by Mullenbrock et al. (2011) that demonstrated that sustained ERK signaling in response to NGF induces preferential expression of a 69-member gene set compared to transient ERK signaling in response to EGF and that the transcription factors AP-1 and CREB play a major role in the preferential expression of several genes within the set. Here, we examined whether the Egr family of transcription factors also contributes to the preferential expression of the gene set in response to NGF. Our data demonstrate that NGF causes transient induction of all Egr family member transcripts, but a corresponding induction of protein was detected for only Egr1 and 2. Chromatin immunoprecipitation experiments provided clearest evidence that, after induction, Egr1 binds 12 of the 69 genes that are preferentially expressed during sustained ERK signaling. In addition, Egr1 expression and binding upstream of its target genes were both sustained in response to NGF versus EGF within the same timeframe that its targets are preferentially expressed. These data thus provide evidence that Egr1 contributes to the transcriptional program activated by sustained ERK signaling in response to NGF, specifically by contributing to the preferential expression of its target genes identified here.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>The Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor (EGFR) activated Extracellular-signal Regulated Kinase (ERK) pathway is a critical cell signalling pathway that relays the signal for a cell to proliferate from the plasma membrane to the nucleus. Deregulation of the EGFR/ERK pathway due to alterations affecting the expression or function of a number of pathway components has long been associated with numerous forms of cancer. Under normal conditions, Epidermal Growth Factor (EGF) stimulates a rapid but transient activation of ERK as the signal is rapidly shutdown. Whereas, under cancerous mutation conditions the ERK signal cannot be shutdown and is sustained resulting in the constitutive activation of ERK and continual cell proliferation. In this study, we have used computational modelling techniques to investigate what effects various cancerous alterations have on the signalling flow through the ERK pathway.<h4>Results</h4>We have generated a new model of the EGFR activated ERK pathway, which was verified by our own experimental data. We then altered our model to represent various cancerous situations such as Ras, B-Raf and EGFR mutations, as well as EGFR overexpression. Analysis of the models showed that different cancerous situations resulted in different signalling patterns through the ERK pathway, especially when compared to the normal EGF signal pattern. Our model predicts that cancerous EGFR mutation and overexpression signals almost exclusively via the Rap1 pathway, predicting that this pathway is the best target for drugs. Furthermore, our model also highlights the importance of receptor degradation in normal and cancerous EGFR signalling, and suggests that receptor degradation is a key difference between the signalling from the EGF and Nerve Growth Factor (NGF) receptors.<h4>Conclusion</h4>Our results suggest that different routes to ERK activation are being utilised in different cancerous situations which therefore has interesting implications for drug selection strategies. We also conducted a comparison of the critical differences between signalling from different growth factor receptors (namely EGFR, mutated EGFR, NGF, and Insulin) with our results suggesting the difference between the systems are large scale and can be attributed to the presence/absence of entire pathways rather than subtle difference in individual rate constants between the systems.
Project description:We describe a hierarchical multiscale computational approach based on molecular dynamics simulations, free energy-based molecular docking simulations, deterministic network-based kinetic modeling, and hybrid discrete/continuum stochastic dynamics protocols to study the dimer-mediated receptor activation characteristics of the Erb family receptors, specifically the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR). Through these modeling approaches, we are able to extend the prior modeling of EGF-mediated signal transduction by considering specific EGFR tyrosine kinase (EGFRTK) docking interactions mediated by differential binding and phosphorylation of different C-terminal peptide tyrosines on the RTK tail. By modeling signal flows through branching pathways of the EGFRTK resolved on a molecular basis, we are able to transcribe the effects of molecular alterations in the receptor (e.g., mutant forms of the receptor) to differing kinetic behavior and downstream signaling response. Our molecular dynamics simulations show that the drug sensitizing mutation (L834R) of EGFR stabilizes the active conformation to make the system constitutively active. Docking simulations show preferential characteristics (for wildtype vs. mutant receptors) in inhibitor binding as well as preferential enhancement of phosphorylation of particular substrate tyrosines over others. We find that in comparison to the wildtype system, the L834R mutant RTK preferentially binds the inhibitor erlotinib, as well as preferentially phosphorylates the substrate tyrosine Y1068 but not Y1173. We predict that these molecular level changes result in preferential activation of the Akt signaling pathway in comparison to the Erk signaling pathway for cells with normal EGFR expression. For cells with EGFR over expression, the mutant over activates both Erk and Akt pathways, in comparison to wildtype. These results are consistent with qualitative experimental measurements reported in the literature. We discuss these consequences in light of how the network topology and signaling characteristics of altered (mutant) cell lines are shaped differently in relationship to native cell lines.
Project description:Epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) is a receptor tyrosine kinase (RTK) that controls cell proliferation, growth, survival, metabolism, and migration by activating the PI3K (phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase)-AKT and ERK (extracellular signal-regulated kinase)-RSK (ribosomal S6 kinase) pathways. EGFR signaling to these pathways is temporally and spatially regulated. Endocytic trafficking controls the access of EGFR to these downstream effectors and also its degradation, which terminates EGFR signaling. We showed that AKT facilitated the endocytic trafficking of EGFR to promote its degradation. Interfering with AKT signaling reduced both EGFR recycling and the rate of EGFR degradation. In AKT-impaired cells, EGFRs were unable to reach the cell surface or the lysosomal compartment and accumulated in the early endosomes, resulting in prolonged signaling and increased activation of ERK and RSK. Upon EGF stimulation, AKT phosphorylated and activated the kinase PIKfyve [FYVE-containing phosphatidylinositol 3-phosphate 5-kinase], which promoted vesicle trafficking to lysosomes. PIKfyve activation promoted EGFR degradation. Similar regulation occurred with platelet-derived growth factor receptor (PDGFR), suggesting that AKT phosphorylation and activation of PIKfyve is likely to be a common feedback mechanism for terminating RTK signaling and reducing receptor abundance.
Project description:Neuronal differentiation of PC12 cells in response to NGF is a prototypical model in which signal duration determines a biological response. Sustained ERK activity induced by NGF, as compared to transient activity induced by EGF, is critical to the differentiation of these cells. To characterize the transcriptional program activated preferentially by NGF, we compared global gene expression profiles between cells treated with NGF and EGF for 2-4 hrs, when sustained ERK signaling in response to NGF is most distinct from the transient signal elicited by EGF. This analysis identified 69 genes that were preferentially upregulated in response to NGF.
Project description:Neuronal differentiation of PC12 cells in response to NGF is a prototypical model in which signal duration determines a biological response. Sustained ERK activity induced by NGF, as compared with transient activity induced by EGF, is critical to the differentiation of these cells. To characterize the transcriptional program activated preferentially by NGF, we compared global gene expression profiles between cells treated with NGF and EGF for 2-4 h, when sustained ERK signaling in response to NGF is most distinct from the transient signal elicited by EGF. This analysis identified 69 genes that were preferentially up-regulated in response to NGF. As expected, up-regulation of these genes was mediated by sustained ERK signaling. In addition, they were up-regulated in response to other neuritogenic treatments (pituitary adenylate cyclase-activating polypeptide and 12-O-tetradecanoylphorbol-13-acetate plus dbcAMP) and were enriched for genes related to neuronal differentiation/function. Computational analysis and chromatin immunoprecipitation identified binding of CREB and AP-1 family members (Fos, FosB, Fra1, JunB, JunD) upstream of >30 and 50%, respectively, of the preferentially NGF-induced genes. Expression of several AP-1 family members was induced by both EGF and NGF, but their induction was more robust and sustained in response to NGF. The binding of Fos family members to their target genes was similarly sustained in response to NGF and was reduced upon MEK inhibition, suggesting that AP-1 contributes significantly to the NGF transcriptional program. Interestingly, Fra1 as well as two other NGF-induced AP-1 targets (HB-EGF and miR-21) function in positive feedback loops that may contribute to sustained AP-1 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.