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Oncogene. 2000 Mar 23;19(13):1665-75.

Epidermal growth factor (EGF) suppresses staurosporine-induced apoptosis by inducing mcl-1 via the mitogen-activated protein kinase pathway.

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Institute of Microbiology and Immunology, National Yang-Ming University, Taipei, Taiwan, Republic of China.


Overexpression of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) and establishment of transforming growth factor alpha (TGF alpha)/EGF autocrine system are frequently detected in tumor cells. In addition to mitogenic ability, we demonstrate in this report that EGF protects a human esophageal carcinoma (CE) cell line, CE81T/VGH, from staurosporine-induced apoptosis. The anti-apoptotic signal of EGF is alleviated by a MEK inhibitor PD98059 or an ERK2 dominant negative mutant but not by a phosphatidylinositol-3'-kinase (PI-3K) inhibitor wortmannin. Furthermore, v-raf blocks apoptosis induced by staurosporine. This evidence implies that the survival signal of EGF is mediated via the Raf-MEK-ERK pathway but not the PI3-K pathway. The survival effect of EGF is coincident with the induction of mcl-1, an antiapoptotic gene in the bcl-2 family. PD98059 also suppresses the induction of Mcl-1 by EGF, implying that EGF may up-regulate Mcl-1 via the MAP kinase pathway. Overexpression of mcl-1 is sufficient to protect against apoptosis, while transfection of a mcl-1 antisense plasmid causes cell death. The expression of mcl-1 antisense plasmid also suppresses the anti-apoptotic effect of EGF. Taken together, these results indicate that EGF may up-regulate Mcl-1 through the MAP kinase pathway to suppress apoptosis.

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