Epidermal growth factor impairs the cytochrome C/caspase-3 apoptotic pathway induced by transforming growth factor beta in rat fetal hepatocytes via a phosphoinositide 3-kinase-dependent pathway.Hepatology 2000; 32(3):528-35Hep
Transforming growth factor beta (TGF-beta)-mediated apoptosis is one of the major death processes in the liver. We have previously shown that epidermal growth factor (EGF) is an important survival signal for TGF-beta-induced apoptosis in fetal hepatocytes (Fabregat et al., FEBS Lett 1996;384:14-18). In this work we have studied the intracellular signaling implicated in the protective effect of EGF. We show here that EGF activates p42 and p44 mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPK). However, mitogen extracellular kinase (MEK) inhibitors do not block the survival effect of EGF. EGF also activates phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI 3-kinase) and protein kinase B (PKB/AKT) in these cells. The presence of PI 3-kinase inhibitors blocks the protective effect of EGF on cell viability, DNA fragmentation, and caspase-3 activity. We have found that TGF-beta disrupts the mitochondrial transmembrane potential (DeltaPsi(m))()and activates the release of cytochrome c, this effect being blocked by EGF, via a PI 3-kinase-dependent pathway. A detailed study on bcl-2 superfamily gene expression shows that TGF-beta produces a decrease in the messenger RNA (mRNA) and protein levels of bcl-x(L), an antiapoptotic member of this family, capable of preventing cytochrome c release. EGF is able to maintain bcl-x(L) levels even in the presence of TGF-beta. PI 3-kinase inhibitors completely block the protective effect of EGF on TGF-beta-induced bcl-x(L)down-regulation. We conclude that PI 3-kinase mediates the survival effect of EGF on TGF-beta-induced death by acting upstream from the mitochondrial changes, i.e., preventing bcl-x(L) down-regulation, cytochrome c release, and activation of caspase-3.