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Cancer Res. 1999 Aug 15;59(16):3954-60.

Growth factor signal transduction immediately after two-thirds partial hepatectomy in the rat.

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Department of Cell Biology, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pennsylvania 15261, USA.


Liver regeneration after partial hepatectomy (PHx) of the liver serves as a model for studying normal growth factor signals that become aberrant in cancer. Growth factor signals that may play a role in initiating the proliferation of hepatocytes after 70% PHx in the rat were investigated immediately after surgical resection of the liver. Presumptive activity was evaluated by determining the tyrosine phosphorylation state of receptors for epidermal growth factor (EGF) and hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) in the liver after PHx and after sham operation as a control. Under these conditions, it was determined that the EGF receptor was constitutively phosphorylated. EGF receptor tyrosine phosphorylation, however, was increased over basal levels by 60 min after resection. The HGF receptor, c-Met, was minimally phosphorylated in control livers, but a biphasic increase in phosphorylation was observed at 1-5 min after PHx and 60 min postsurgery. A slight increase in c-Met phosphorylation was observed in the sham-operated livers, but the signal was significantly less when compared with that in resected livers. Furthermore, 1 min after PHx, but not sham operation, urokinase-type plasminogen activator (u-PA) and u-PA receptor were observed in the immunoprecipitates of c-Met. Signaling downstream of growth factor receptor activation was also examined. There were no discernible phosphorylation changes in focal adhesion kinase during the early events after surgery in PHx; however, a rapid and sustained increase in the tyrosine phosphorylation of paxillin beginning 1 min after PHx, and a gradual increase in the phosphorylation beginning 5 min postsham operation, were observed. Changes in the activated state of the small GTP-binding protein Rho A and its associated proteins were seen but only after 3 h after PHx. The results indicate that HGF-related signal transduction cascades, which contribute to hepatocyte proliferation, are initiated within one min after PHx.

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