EGF receptor transactivation by G-protein-coupled receptors requires metalloproteinase cleavage of proHB-EGF

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Cross-communication between different signalling systems allows the integration of the great diversity of stimuli that a cell receives under varying physiological situations. The transactivation of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR)-dependent signalling pathways upon stimulation of G-protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs), which are critical for the mitogenic activity of ligands such as lysophosphatidic acid, endothelin, thrombin, bombesin and carbachol, provides evidence for such an interconnected communication network1,2,3,4. Here we show that EGFR transactivation upon GPCR stimulation involves proHB-EGF and a metalloproteinase activity that is rapidly induced upon GPCR–ligand interaction. We show that inhibition of proHB-EGF processing blocks GPCR-induced EGFR transactivation and downstream signals. The pathophysiological significance of this mechanism is demonstrated by inhibition of constitutive EGFR activity upon treatment of PC3 prostate carcinoma cells with the metalloproteinase inhibitor batimastat. Together, our results establish a new mechanistic concept for cross-communication among different signalling systems.

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Figure 1: GPCR-induced EP-R transactivation redefines endogenous EGFR-mediated signalling to PDGFR-specific signals.
Figure 2: Carbachol-induced intercellular transactivation of the EGF receptor.
Figure 3: GPCR-induced EGFR transactivation and adapter protein tyrosine phosphorylation is dependent on HB-EGF function.
Figure 4: GPCR-induced proteolytic processing of proHB-EGF and EGFR transactivation are critically dependent on metalloproteinase function.


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We are grateful to E. Mekada for plasmids containing ADAM9-WT and proteinase-inactive mutants, and J. Bange for the pcDNA3-VSV vector. ICR-3R antibody and batimastat were generous gifts from C. Mateo and K. Maskos, respectively. We thank P. O. Hackel and K. Specht for helpful discussions and I. Sures for critically reading the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Axel Ullrich.

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Prenzel, N., Zwick, E., Daub, H. et al. EGF receptor transactivation by G-protein-coupled receptors requires metalloproteinase cleavage of proHB-EGF. Nature 402, 884–888 (1999) doi:10.1038/47260

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