Two residues have been shown to be critical for the kinase activity of the receptor for epidermal growth factor (EGF): lysine-721, which functions in the binding of ATP by correctly positioning the gamma-phosphate for phosphoryl transfer, and aspartate-813, which functions as the catalytic base of the kinase. Mutation of either of these two residues has been shown to disrupt kinase activity of the receptor. However, studies performed in different laboratories had suggested that while EGF receptors mutated at lysine-721 are unable to stimulate significant increases of [(3)H]thymidine incorporation into DNA in response to EGF treatment, cells expressing EGF receptors mutated at aspartate-813 do stimulate significant incorporation of [(3)H]thymidine into DNA in response to EGF. In the present study, EGF receptors mutated at lysine-721 or aspartate-813 (K721R and D813A, respectively), as well as wild-type EGF receptors, were expressed in the same cellular background, Chinese hamster ovary cells, and side-by-side experiments were performed to investigate possible signaling-related differences. Our results indicate that while there are measurable differences in the abilities of the two mutant receptors to stimulate [(3)H]thymidine incorporation between 20 and 24 h after addition of EGF, these differences cannot be correlated with significant differences in EGF-stimulated tyrosine phosphorylation of mutant EGF receptor and endogenous ErbB2, the extent of receptor internalization, EGF-stimulated ion uptake, stimulation of SHC activity, or receptor association with Grb2. Flow cytometric data suggest that populations of cells expressing either kinase-impaired mutant EGF receptor progress similarly into S phase in response to addition of EGF. These observations suggest that D813A and K721R retain similar ability to stimulate mitogenic signaling events through transactivation of ErbB2 with only subtle temporal differences, and they emphasize the importance of expressing mutant receptors in an identical cellular context to make valid comparisons of functions.
Copyright 2001 Academic Press.