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J Histochem Cytochem. Jun 2010; 58(6): 529–541.
PMCID: PMC2874185

The Constitutive Activity of Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor vIII Leads to Activation and Differential Trafficking of Wild-type Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor and erbB2


A constitutively active epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) mutant, EGFR variant III (EGFRvIII), has been detected at high frequencies in certain human cancers. This study evaluated transactivation and trafficking of erbB family members as a result of constitutive EGFR activity in a cancer cell line. Expression of EGFRvIII modulated erbB family members through different mechanisms; the erbB3 mRNA level was reduced, whereas wild-type EGFR (wtEGFR) and erbB2 protein levels were diminished, with no change in their mRNA levels, and there was no change in the erbB4 expression level. Both EGFR and erbB2 were internalized as a result of EGFRvIII's activity and redistributed to the cell surface upon addition of AG1478, an inhibitor of wtEGFR/EGFRvIII catalytic activity. Acute activation of EGFRvIII by removing AG1478 from cells increased phosphorylation of both wtEGFR and erbB2 and caused differential trafficking of EGFRvIII's activation partners; wtEGFR was directed primarily to lysosomal compartments and partially to recycling compartments, whereas erbB2 was directed primarily to recycling compartments and partially to lysosomal compartments. Our data demonstrate that the constitutive activity of EGFRvIII is sufficient to trigger endocytosis and trafficking of wtEGFR and erbB2, which may play a role in activating signaling pathways that are triggered during receptor endocytosis. (J Histochem Cytochem 58:529–541, 2010)

Keywords: EGFR, EGFRvIII, cancer, heterodimerization, endocytosis, trafficking, recycling, lysosome

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