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Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol. 2012 May 1;302(9):G1006-15. doi: 10.1152/ajpgi.00427.2011. Epub 2012 Feb 23.

Src-mediated aryl hydrocarbon and epidermal growth factor receptor cross talk stimulates colon cancer cell proliferation.

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Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Univ. of Maryland School of Medicine, 22 S. Greene St., N3W62, Baltimore, MD 21201, USA.


The aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR) mediates many toxic effects of environmental pollutants. AhR also interacts with multiple growth factor-driven signaling pathways. In the course of examining effects of growth factors on proliferation of human colon cancer cells, we identified cross talk between AhR and the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR). In the present work, we explored underlying signal transduction mechanisms and functional consequences of this interaction. With the use of two human colon cancer cell lines, H508 and SNU-C4, we examined the effects of AhR ligands including 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD) on cell proliferation and activation of EGFR, ERK1/2, and Src kinases. In colon cancer cells, 5-day incubation with TCDD stimulated a twofold dose-dependent increase in cell proliferation that was detectable with 1 nM and maximal with 30 nM TCDD. TCDD induced dose- and time-dependent phosphorylation of EGFR (Tyr845) and ERK1/2; maximal phosphorylation was observed 5 to 10 min after addition of 30 nM TCDD. Both TCDD-induced ERK1/2 phosphorylation and cell proliferation were abolished by AhR small interfering RNA, AhR-specific inhibitor CH223191, Src kinase inhibitor PP2, neutralizing antibodies against matrix metalloproteinase 7, heparin-binding-EGF-like growth factor and EGFR, EGFR inhibitors (AG1478 and PD168393), and MEK1 inhibitor PD98059. Coimmunoprecipitation experiments revealed that AhR forms a protein complex with Src and regulates Src activity by phosphorylating Src (Tyr416) and dephosphorylating Src (Tyr527). These data support novel observations that, in human colon cancer cells, Src-mediated cross talk between aryl hydrocarbon and EGFR results in ERK1/2 activation, thereby stimulating cell proliferation.

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