Epidermal growth factor (EGF) is produced in the ovary and influences proliferation of the malignant ovarian surface epithelium (OSE); yet its role in malignancy or in regulating the normal surface epithelium is unclear. In human OSE cells derived from primary cultures of normal tissue transfected with SV40 large T antigen (IOSE cells), EGF promoted survival but not proliferation. This survival effect was reversed by acute treatment with the phorbol ester, 12-0-tetradecanoyl-13-phorbol acetate (TPA) which alone markedly inhibited IOSE proliferation. We tested whether the activities of the mitogen-activated protein kinases (ERK1/2 and JNK1) varied in response to EGF, TPA, or combinations of these agonists and if the same treatments altered patterns of immediate early gene expression. Alone, EGF activated ERK1/2, increased and sustained levels of c-jun mRNA, but had almost no effect on JNK1 activation. Conversely, PKC activation resulted in a rapid, but transient induction of c-fos RNA and of both kinases, JNK1 and ERK2. When combined, EGF and TPA further enhanced the phosphorylation of both enzymes despite inhibiting survival. Though JNKs and ERKs are thought to transduce opposing cellular responses, in IOSE cells, robust costimulation of the JNK and ERK pathways may redirect the survival message.
Copyright 1999 Academic Press.