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Mol Biol Cell. 2001 Mar;12(3):725-38.

Mechanism in the sequential control of cell morphology and S phase entry by epidermal growth factor involves distinct MEK/ERK activations.

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Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale U522, Unité de Recherches Hépatologiques, Institut Fédératif de Recherche 97, Hôpital Pontchaillou, 35033 Rennes, France.


Cell shape plays a role in cell growth, differentiation, and death. Herein, we used the hepatocyte, a normal, highly differentiated cell characterized by a long G1 phase, to understand the mechanisms that link cell shape to growth. First, evidence was provided that the mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase (MEK)/extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) cascade is a key transduction pathway controlling the hepatocyte morphology. MEK2/ERK2 activation in early G1 phase did not lead to cell proliferation but induced cell shape spreading and demonstration was provided that this MAPK-dependent spreading was required for reaching G1/S transition and DNA replication. Moreover, epidermal growth factor (EGF) was found to control this morphogenic signal in addition to its mitogenic effect. Thus, blockade of cell spreading by cytochalasin D or PD98059 treatment resulted in inhibition of EGF-dependent DNA replication. Our data led us to assess the first third of G1, is exclusively devoted to the growth factor-dependent morphogenic events, whereas the mitogenic signal occurred at only approximately mid-G1 phase. Moreover, these two growth factor-related sequential signaling events involved successively activation of MEK2-ERK2 and then MEK1/2-ERK1/2 isoforms. In addition, we demonstrated that inhibition of extracellular matrix receptor, such as integrin beta1 subunit, leads to cell arrest in G1, whereas EGF was found to up-regulated integrin beta1 and fibronectin in a MEK-ERK-dependent manner. This process in relation to cytoskeletal reorganization could induce hepatocyte spreading, making them permissive for DNA replication. Our results provide new insight into the mechanisms by which a growth factor can temporally control dual morphogenic and mitogenic signals during the G1 phase.

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