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Cell Signal. 2008 Jul;20(7):1359-67. doi: 10.1016/j.cellsig.2008.03.007. Epub 2008 Mar 21.

c-Src trafficking and co-localization with the EGF receptor promotes EGF ligand-independent EGF receptor activation and signaling.

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Cell Biology Program, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, NY 10065, United States.


c-Src is a non-receptor tyrosine kinase that associates with both the plasma membrane and endosomal compartments. In many human cancers, especially breast cancer, c-Src and the EGF receptor (EGFR) are overexpressed. Dual overexpression of c-Src and EGFR correlates with a Src-dependent increase in activation of EGFR, and synergism between these two tyrosine kinases increases the mitogenic activity of EGFR. Despite extensive studies of the functional interaction between c-Src and EGFR, little is known about the interactions in the trafficking pathways for the two proteins and how that influences signaling. Given the synergism between c-Src and EGFR, and the finding that EGFR is internalized and can signal from endosomes, we hypothesized that c-Src and EGFR traffic together through the endocytic pathway. Here we use a regulatable c-SrcGFP fusion protein that is a bona fide marker for c-Src to show that c-Src undergoes constitutive macropinocytosis from the plasma membrane into endocytic compartments. The movement of c-Src was dependent on its tyrosine kinase activity. Stimulation of cells with EGF revealed that c-Src traffics into the cell with activated EGFR and that c-Src expression and kinase activity prolongs EGFR activation. Surprisingly, even in the absence of EGF addition, c-Src expression induced activation of EGFR and of EGFR-mediated downstream signaling targets ERK and Shc. These data suggest that the synergy between c-Src and EGFR also occurs as these two kinases traffic together, and that their co-localization promotes EGFR-mediated signaling.

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