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Jennifer L. McClintock, Brian P. Ceresa; Transforming Growth Factor-α Enhances Corneal Epithelial Cell Migration by Promoting EGFR Recycling. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2010;51(7):3455-3461. doi: 10.1167/iovs.09-4386.
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The goal of this study was to determine the molecular mechanism by which transforming growth factor-α (TGF-α) is a more potent activator of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR)-mediated corneal wound healing than epidermal growth factor (EGF).
Telomerase immortalized human corneal epithelial (hTCEpi) cells and primary human corneal epithelial cells were tested for their ability to migrate in response to EGF and TGF-α. In parallel, the endocytic trafficking of the EGFR in response to these same ligands was examined using indirect immunofluorescence, immunoblots, and radioligand binding.
TGF-α, compared with EGF, is a more potent activator of corneal epithelial cell migration. Although both TGF-α and EGF were able to induce EGFR internalization and phosphorylation, only those receptors that were stimulated with EGF progressed to lysosomal degradation. EGFRs stimulated with TGF-α recycled back to the plasma membrane, where they could be reactivated with ligand.
This study reveals that EGFR-mediated cell migration is limited by ligand-stimulated downregulation of the EGFR. This limitation can be overcome by treating cells with TGF-α because TGF-α stimulates EGFR endocytosis, but not degradation. After internalization of the TGF-α/EGFR complex, EGFR recycles back to the plasma membrane, where it can be restimulated. This sequence of events provides the receptor multiple opportunities for stimulation. Thus, stimulation with TGF-α prolongs EGFR signaling compared with EGF.
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