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J Cell Biochem. 1998 May 1;69(2):143-53.

Extracellular calcium influx stimulates metalloproteinase cleavage and secretion of heparin-binding EGF-like growth factor independently of protein kinase C.

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  • 1Department of Urology, Children's Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, USA.


The phorbol ester, tetradecanoyl-phorbol 13-acetate (TPA), stimulates rapid proteolytic processing of the transmembrane, pro- form of heparin-binding epidermal growth factor-like growth factor (HB-EGF) at cell surfaces, suggesting the involvement of protein kinase C (PKC) isoforms in the HB-EGF secretion mechanism. To test this possibility, we expressed a chimeric protein, consisting of proHB-EGF fused to placental alkaline phosphatase (AP) near the amino terminus of processed HB-EGF, in NbMC-2 prostate epithelial cells. The proHB-EGF-AP chimera localized to plasma membranes and functioned as a diphtheria toxin receptor. Secreted HB-EGF-AP bound to heparin and exhibited potent growth factor activity. The presence of the AP moiety allowed highly quantitative measurements of cleavage-secretion responses of proHB-EGF to extracellular stimuli. As expected, rapid secretion of HB-EGF-AP was induced in a time- and dose-dependent manner by TPA. However, this was also observed with the Ca2+ ionophore, ionomycin, suggesting the involvement of extracellular Ca2+ ions in the secretion mechanism. Ionomycin-induced secretion was inhibited by extracellular calcium chelation but not by the PKC inhibitors, GF109203X, staurosporine, or chelerythrine. The TPA-mediated secretion effect was inhibited by staurosporine, GF109203X, and by pretreatment with TPA, but not by calcium chelation. A small secretion response was induced by thapsigargin, which releases Ca2+ from intracellular stores, but this was completely eliminated by extracellular calcium chelation. Ionomycin- and TPA-induced HB-EGF-AP secretion was not dependent on the presence of the proHB-EGF cytoplasmic domain and was specifically inhibited by the metalloproteinase inhibitors 1,10-phenanthroline and tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinase-1 (TIMP-1). These data demonstrate that extracellular Ca2+ influx activates a membrane-associated metalloproteinase to process proHB-EGF by a pathway that does not require PKC.

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