The extracellular-regulated kinase (ERK1/2) is a key conduit for transduction of signals from growth factor receptors to the nucleus. Previous work has shown that ERK1/2 activation in response to IGF-1 may require the participation of G proteins, but the role of the receptor tyrosine kinase in this process has not been clearly resolved. This investigation of IGF-1 receptor function was therefore designed to examine the contribution of the receptor tyrosine kinase to ERK1/2 activation. Phosphorylation of ERK1/2 in smooth muscle cells following treatment with IGF-1 was not blocked by pretreatment with AG1024 or picropodophylin, inhibitors of the IGF-1 receptor tyrosine kinase. Likewise, IGF-1 activated ERK1/2 in cells expressing a kinase-dead mutant of the IGF-1 receptor. ERK1/2 activation was unaffected by the phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase inhibitor LY-294002, but was sensitive to inhibitors of Src kinase, phospholipase C and Gβγ subunit signalling. Treatment with αIR-3, a neutralizing monoclonal antibody, also stimulated ERK1/2 phosphorylation without concomitant activation of the receptor tyrosine kinase. Phosphoprotein mapping of IGF-1 and αIR-3 treated cells confirmed that antibody-induced ERK1/2 phosphorylation occurred in the absence of tyrosine kinase phosphorylation, and enabled extension of these findings to p38 MAPK. These results suggest that stimulation of ERK1/2 phosphorylation by IGF-1 does not require activation of the receptor tyrosine kinase.
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