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J Biol Chem. 1998 May 1;273(18):11288-94.

Activation of ErbB4 by the bifunctional epidermal growth factor family hormone epiregulin is regulated by ErbB2.

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  • 1Department of Pathology, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut 06520-8023, USA.


Epiregulin (EPR) is a recently described member of the epidermal growth factor (EGF) family of peptide growth factors. The ever expanding size of the EGF family has made distinguishing the activities of these hormones paramount. We show here that EPR activates two members of the ErbB family of receptor tyrosine kinases, epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) and ErbB4. Therefore by these criteria, EPR is qualitatively similar to another EGF family hormone, betacellulin (BTC). Yet, here we also demonstrate quantitative differences between EPR and BTC. EPR stimulates higher levels of EGFR phosphorylation than does BTC, whereas BTC stimulates higher levels of ErbB4 phosphorylation than does EPR. Moreover, the EPR and BTC dose response curves show that although EGFR is more sensitive to EPR than is ErbB4, ErbB4 is more sensitive to BTC than is EGFR. Finally, ErbB2, which is not activated by EPR when expressed on its own, increases the sensitivity of ErbB4 for activation by EPR. Therefore, these results establish that EPR exhibits novel activities and modes of regulation, which may have significant implications for EPR function in vivo.

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