Epidermal growth factor receptor-dependent and -independent cell-signaling pathways originating from the urokinase receptor

Minji Jo, Keena S. Thomas, Denise M. O'Donnell, Steven L. Gonias

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

118 Scopus citations


Urokinase-type plasminogen activator (uPA) and vitronectin activate cell-signaling pathways by binding to the uPA receptor (uPAR). Because uPAR is glyco-sylphosphatidylinositol-anchored, the signaling receptor is most likely a uPAR-containing multiprotein complex. This complex may be heterogeneous within a single cell and among different cell types. The goal of this study was to elucidate the role of the EGF receptor (EGFR) as a component of the uPAR-signaling machinery. uPA activated extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) in COS-7 cells and in COS-7 cells that overexpress uPAR, and this response was blocked by the EGFR inhibitor, tyrphostin AG1478, implicating the EGFR in the pathway that links uPAR to ERK. By contrast, Rac1 activation, which occurred as a result of uPAR overexpression, was EGFR-independent. COS-7 cell migration was stimulated, in an additive manner, by uPAR-deepndent pathways leading to ERK and Rac1. AG1478 inhibited only the ERK-dependent component of the response. CHO-K1 cells do not express EGFR; however, these cells demonstrated ERK activation in response to uPA, indicating the presence of an EGFR-independent alternative pathway. As anticipated, this response was insensitive to AG1478. When CHO-K1 cells were transfected to express EGFR or a kinase-inactive mutant of EGFR, ERK activation in response to uPA was unchanged; however, the EGFR-expressing cells acquired sensitivity to AG1478. We conclude that the EGFR may function as a transducer of the signal from uPAR to ERK, but not Rac1. In the absence of EGFR, an alternative pathway links uPAR to ERK; however, this pathway is apparently silenced by EGFR expression.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1642-1646
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jan 17 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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