Elastase-released epidermal growth factor recruits epidermal growth factor receptor and extracellular signal-regulated kinases to down-regulate tropoelastin mRNA in lung fibroblasts

Sandra J DiCamillo, Isabel Carreras, Maria V Panchenko, Phillip J Stone, Matthew A Nugent, Judith A Foster, Mikhail P Panchenko
Journal of Biological Chemistry 2002 May 24, 277 (21): 18938-46
Elastase/anti-elastase imbalance is a hallmark of emphysema, a chronic obstructive pulmonary disease associated with the rupture and inefficient repair of interstitial elastin. We report that neutrophil elastase (NE) at low physiologic concentrations, ranging from 35 nm to 1 microm, invokes transient, peaking at 15 min, activation of extracellular signal-regulated kinases 1 and 2 (ERK) in elastogenic lung fibroblasts. ERK activation is preceded by the release of soluble 25-26-kDa forms of epidermal growth factor (EGF) and transactivation of EGF receptor (EGFR) in NE-exposed cells. The stimulatory effect of NE on ERK is abrogated in the presence of anti-EGF-neutralizing antibodies, EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitor (AG1478), and ERK kinase inhibitor (PD98059), as well as abolished in both EGFR-desensitized and endocytosis-arrested fibroblasts. Nuclear accumulation of activated ERK is associated with transient, peaking at 30 min, induction of c-Fos and sustained, observed at 24-48 h, decrease of tropoelastin mRNA levels in NE-challenged cells. Pretreatment of fibroblasts with AG1478 or PD98059 abrogates the NE-initiated tropoelastin mRNA suppression. We conclude that proteolytically released EGF signals directly via EGFR and ERK to down-regulate tropoelastin mRNA in NE-challenged lung fibroblasts.

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