Faculty Research 1990 - 1999


Cleavage of the epidermal growth factor receptor by a membrane-bound leupeptin-sensitive protease active in nonionic detergent lysates of senescent but not young human diploid fibroblasts.

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Cell-Line, Cell-Membrane: me, Detergents, Diploidy, Fibroblasts: ph, me, Human, Intracellular-Membranes: me, Leupeptins, Ligands, Peptide-Peptidohydrolases: me, Phosphorylation, Protease-Inhibitors, Protein-Processing-Post-Translational, Receptors-Epidermal-Growth-Factor-Urogastrone, Solvents, Stimulation-Chemical, SUPPORT-NON-U-S-GOVT, SUPPORT-U-S-GOVT-P-H-S, Trypsin

JAX Source

J Cell Physiol 1994 Sep;160(3):427-34


AG06540/AG/NIA, AG00378/AG/NIA, AG00097/AG/NIA


Numerous studies suggest that epidermal growth factor (EGF) signaling is impaired in nonproliferating senescent human diploid fibroblasts downstream of receptor binding. One possible explanation for these results is that senescent cells possess unique enzymatic activities capable of regulating functional levels of the EGF receptor. To test that hypothesis, nonionic detergent lysates of young and senescent cells were compared for proteolytic activity directed towards the EGF receptor, and a protease that cleaves the 170 kDa EGF receptor was identified in lysates from senescent but not young cells. Although studies presented here were carried out with WI-38 cells, our data indicate that other senescent fibroblasts possess a similar activity. The degradation product immunoprecipitated by a monoclonal antibody specific for an EGF receptor exocytosolic epitope had an approximate molecular weight of 100,000. This product was also detected following cell surface labeling with 125I, and by cross-linking 125I-EGF to intact cells with disuccinimidyl suberate. The proteolytic activity in senescent cell lysates was specifically inhibited by leupeptin and did not require divalent cations; it was also inactivated by aprotic solvents such as dimethylsulfoxide (DMSO) or ethylene carbonate. Interestingly, this protease was not active during ligand-induced intracellular processing of the EGF receptor, suggesting that it does not normally function in endocytic or lysosomal compartments. The susceptibility of the protease to inactivation by cell surface trypsinization is consistent with a plasma membrane localization. Since EGF receptor cleavage is not observed unless senescent cells are solubilized with nonionic detergents, it seems likely that the protease is confined to specialized regions of the plasma membrane. Whether or not the EGF receptor is a physiologic target for this protease is unclear. Its expression at the cell surface is nevertheless significant, since it suggests there are mechanisms for regulating membrane-bound proteins, or biologically active peptides in the extracellular space, in senescent cells that are either absent or inactive in young cells.

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