Epidermal growth factor (EGF) protects against death receptor induced apoptosis in epithelial cells. Herein, we demonstrate that EGF protection against tumor necrosis factor related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL) induced apoptosis is mediated by increased expression of the Bcl-2 family member myeloid cell leukemia 1 (Mcl-1). EGF increased the mRNA and protein levels of Mcl-1. Furthermore, expression of ErbB1 alone or in combination with ErbB2 in NIH3T3 cells up-regulates Mcl-1 following EGF treatment. In addition, up-regulation of Mcl-1 by EGF is mediated through AKT and NFkappaB activation since kinase inactive AKT and DeltaIkappaB effectively blocks this up-regulation. NFkappaB was also critical for the ability of EGF to prevent TRAIL induced apoptosis as a dominant negative IkappaB (DeltaIkappaB) blocked NFkappaB activation, and relieved EGF protection against TRAIL mediated mitochondrial cytochrome-c release and apoptosis. Finally, anti-sense oligonucleotides directed against Mcl-1 effectively reduced the protein levels of Mcl-1 and blocked EGF protection against TRAIL induced mitochondrial cytochrome-c release and apoptosis. Taken together, EGF signaling leads to increased Mcl-1 expression that is required for blockage of TRAIL induced apoptosis.
Copyright 2003 Wiley-Liss, Inc.