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Dev Biol. 1993 Sep;159(1):208-22.

Inhibition of differentiation in P19 embryonal carcinoma cells by the expression of vectors encoding truncated or antisense EGF receptor.

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La Jolla Cancer Research Foundation, California 92037.


Murine embryonal carcinoma cells do not express detectable cell-surface epidermal growth factor receptors (EGF-R) but after 2 days of differentiation induced by retinoic acid (RA) increasingly express mRNA and protein encoded by the EGF receptor gene (Joh et al., Cell Growth and Differentiation 3, 315, 1992). The effect on morphology, growth, and differentiation of the introduction of expression vectors that produce either a truncated, kinase-negative mouse EGF receptor or an antisense mRNA was studied in P19 embryonal carcinoma (EC) cells before and after differentiation. The presence of either construct should lead to the reduction of EGF-R expression by either the dominant negative effects of a truncated protein or the inhibition of endogenous EGF-R mRNA production/translation by complementary RNA, respectively. Cells were cotransfected with the bacterial neomycin resistance gene and constitutively expressing clones were selected with G418. The cytomegalovirus LTR promoter/enhancer was found to be very inefficiently activated in P19 EC cells. After RA addition, changes in gene expression included induction of both the exogenous truncated constructs and endogenous EGF-R. Differentiation was gauged by the expression of tissue-type plasminogen activator and intermediate filament protein markers of neural tissues, as well as EGF-R. The expression of 120-kDa truncated EGF-Rs was high in four clones, but all 10 clones examined had diminished abilities to differentiate after RA induction compared to four control cell lines. Similarly, the majority of antisense transfected clones was unable to differentiate normally. The results indicate that the reduced expression of EGF-Rs in differentiating EC cells inhibits the rate, frequency, and extent of differentiation after RA induction. We conclude that the expression of EGF-Rs plays a role in the stimulation of differentiation and we speculate that the mechanism involves the tyrosine kinase activity of the receptor.

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