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Exp Cell Res. 2000 Apr 10;256(1):74-82.

Modulation of EGF receptor activity by changes in the GM3 content in a human epidermoid carcinoma cell line, A431.

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The Brain Tumor Research Program, Children's Memorial Medical Center, Chicago, Illinois 60614, USA.


Gangliosides have been described as modulators of growth factor receptors. For example, GM3 addition in cell culture medium inhibits epidermal growth factor (EGF)-stimulated receptor autophosphorylation. Furthermore, depletion of ganglioside by sialidase gene transfection appeared to increase EGF receptor (EGFR) autophosphorylation. These data suggested that changes in GM3 content may result in different responses to EGF. In this study, the ceramide analog d-threo-1-phenyl-2-decannoylamino-3-morpholino-1-propanol ([D]-PDMP), which inhibits UDP-glucose-ceramide glucosyltransferase, and addition of GM3 to the culture medium were used to study the effects of GM3 on the EGFR. Addition of 10 microM [D]-PDMP to A431 cells resulted in significant GM3 depletion. Additionally, EGFR autophosphorylation was increased after EGF stimulation. When exogenous GM3 was added in combination with [D]-PDMP, the enhanced EGFR autophosphorylation was returned to control levels. [D]-PDMP also increased EGF-induced cell proliferation, consistent with its effect on autophosphorylation. Once again, the addition of GM3 in combination with [D]-PDMP reversed these effects. These results indicate that growth factor receptor functions can be modulated by the level of ganglioside expression in cell lines. Addition of GM3 inhibits EGFR activity and decrease of GM3 levels using [D]-PDMP treatment enhances EGFR activity. Modulation of growth factor receptor function may provide an explanation for how transformation-dependent ganglioside changes contribute to the transformed phenotype.

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