ErbB receptor ligands, epidermal growth factor (EGF) and heregulin (HRG), induce dose-dependent transient and sustained intracellular signaling, proliferation and differentiation of MCF-7 breast cancer cells, respectively. In an effort to delineate the ligand-specific cell determination mechanism, we investigated time-course gene expressions induced by EGF and HRG that induce distinct cellular phenotypes in MCF-7 cells. To analyze the effects of ligand dosage and time for the gene expression independently, we developed a statistical method for decomposing the expression profiles into the two effects. Our results indicated that signal transduction pathways devotedly convey quantitative properties of the dose-dependent activation of ErbB receptor to early transcription. The results also implied that moderate changes in the expression levels of numbers of genes, not the predominant regulation of a few specific genes, might cooperatively work at the early stage of the transcription for determining the cell fate. However, the EGF- and HRG-induced distinct signal durations resulted in the ligand-oriented biphasic induction of proteins after 20 min. The selected gene list and HRG-induced prolonged signaling suggested that transcriptional feedback to the intracellular signaling results in a graded to biphasic response in the cell determination process, and that each ErbB receptor is inextricably responsible for the control of amplitude and duration of cellular biochemical reactions. Keywords: time course
MCF-7 human breast cancer cells were incubated from 5min to 90min after administration of the growth hormone (heregulin (HRG)), the kinase inhibitor (U0126 (a MEK inhibitor), AG1478 (an EGFR kinase inhibitor) or both growth hormone and one of kinase inhibitor. Control was set as growth hormone/inhibitor non-treated cells. For each inhibitor, one control was used.