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Biochim Biophys Acta. 2007 Jun;1773(6):833-43. Epub 2007 Feb 17.

EGFR phosphorylation-dependent formation of cell-cell contacts by Ras/Erks cascade inhibition.

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Cancer Research Institute, Department of Molecular and Clinical Oncology, College of Medicine, Seoul National University, 28, Yeongeon-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul 110-799, South Korea.


Cell-cell contacts play important roles in the homeostasis of normal epithelium and in the steps of metastasis of tumor cells, although signaling mechanisms to regulate cell-cell contacts are unclear. In this study, we observed that phenotype of no cell-cell contacts in rat intestinal epithelial cell subline (RIE1-Sca) correlated with increased Erk1/2 signaling activity, compared to that of parental RIE1 cells growing in colonies. Furthermore, cell-cell contacts between RIE1-Sca cells were reformed by treatment with a specific MEK inhibitor (U0126), with translocation of ZO1 and beta-catenin to cell-cell contacts, without changes of their expression levels. U0126 treatment also increased EGFR phosphorylation in a ligand-independent manner. Pretreatment with EGFR kinase inhibitor abolished U0126 treatment-mediated EGFR phosphorylation, and expression of dominant negative H-Ras N17 allowed EGFR phosphorylation and cell-cell contacts even without U0126 treatment. Furthermore, the expression of a nonphosphorylatable EGFR Y5F mutant abolished U0126-mediated cell-cell contacts. U0126 treatment also caused less efficient wound healing by keeping monolayer integrity intact, compared to control untreated cells. This U0126-mediated reduction in wound healing was further altered either by pretreatment of EGFR kinase inhibitor or expression of H-Ras N17 or EGFR Y5F. Taken together, this study supports a unique mechanism of cell-cell contact formation through MEK/Erks inhibition-mediated EGFR phosphorylation.

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