Journal of Endocrinology

 Attenuation of epidermal growth factor (EGF) signaling by growth hormone (GH)

Transgenic mice overexpressing growth hormone (GH) show increased hepatic protein content of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), which is broadly associated with cell proliferation and oncogenesis. However, chronically elevated levels of GH result in desensitization of STAT-mediated EGF signal and similar response of ERK1/2 and AKT signaling to EGF compared to normal mice. To ascertain the mechanisms involved in GH attenuation of EGF signaling and the consequences on cell cycle promotion, phosphorylation of signaling mediators was studied at different time points after EGF stimulation, and induction of proteins involved in cell cycle progression was assessed in normal and GH-overexpressing transgenic mice. Results from kinetic studies confirmed the absence of STAT3 and 5 activation and comparable levels of ERK1/2 phosphorylation upon EGF stimulation, which was associated with diminished or similar induction of c-MYC, c-FOS, c-JUN, CYCLIN D1 and CYCLIN E in transgenic compared to normal mice. Accordingly, kinetics of EGF-induced c-SRC and EGFR phosphorylation at activating residues demonstrated that activation of these proteins was lower in the transgenic mice with respect to normal animals. In turn, EGFR phosphorylation at serine 1046/1047, which is implicated in the negative regulation of the receptor, was increased in the liver of GH-overexpressing transgenic mice both in basal conditions and upon EGF stimulus. Increased basal phosphorylation and activation of the p38-mitogen-activated protein kinase might account for increased Ser 1046/1047 EGFR. Hyperphosphorylation of EGFR at serine residues would represent a compensatory mechanism triggered by chronically elevated levels of GH to mitigate the proliferative response induced by EGF.