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PLoS One. 2018 Aug 31;13(8):e0198983. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0198983. eCollection 2018.

Bile acids target proteolipid nano-assemblies of EGFR and phosphatidic acid in the plasma membrane for stimulation of MAPK signaling.

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Department of Integrative Biology and Pharmacology, University of Texas Health Science Center, Houston, Texas, United States of America.
Department of Molecular Virology and Microbiology, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas, United States of America.
College of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Soochow University, Suzhou, P.R. China.


Bile acids are critical biological detergents in the gastrointestinal tract and also act as messengers to regulate a multitude of intracellular signaling events, including mitogenic signaling, lipid metabolism and endo/exocytosis. In particular, bile acids stimulate many receptors and ion channels on the cell surface, the mechanisms of which are still poorly understood. Membrane-associating proteins depend on the local spatial distribution of lipids in the plasma membrane (PM) for their function. Here, we report that the highly amphipathic secondary bile acid deoxycholic acid (DCA), a major constituent in the human bile, at doses <1μM enhances the nanoclustering and the PM localization of phosphatidic acid (PA) but disrupts the local segregation of phosphatidylserine in the basolateral PM of the human colorectal adenocarcinoma Caco-2 cells. PA is a key structural component of the signaling nano-domains of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) on the cell surface. We show that DCA promotes the co-localization between PA and EGFR, the PA-driven EGFR dimerization/oligomerization and EGFR signaling. Depletion of PA abolishes the stimulatory effects of DCA on the EGFR oligomerization and signaling. This effect occurs in the cultured Caco-2 cells and the ex vivo human intestinal enteroids. We propose a novel mechanism, where the amphiphilic DCA monomers alter the nano-assemblies of anionic phospholipids and in turn change the dynamic structural integrity of the lipid-driven oligomerization of cell surface receptors and their signal transduction.

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