Heparin-binding epidermal growth factor-like growth factor stimulates cell proliferation in cerebral cortical cultures through phosphatidylinositol 3′-kinase and mitogen-activated protein kinase

Kunlin Jin, Xiao Ou Mao, Gabriel Del Rio Guerra, Lan Jin, David A. Greenberg

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Heparin-binding epidermal growth factor (EGF)-like growth factor (HB-EGF) stimulates cell proliferation in the adult mammalian brain, but the mechanism involved is unknown. To address this issue we treated mouse brain cerebral cortical cultures enriched in neuronal precursors with full-length HB-EGF, its HB or EGF-like domain alone, or both domains in combination. Labeling of cultures with bromodeoxyuridine (BrdU), a marker of cell proliferation, was increased ∼10% by the HB domain and ∼20% by the EGF-like domain, and the effects of the two domains were additive. Full-length HB-EGF was most effective (∼50% increase) in stimulating BrdU incorporation. Preincubation with heparinase III or with Na-chlorate abolished cell proliferation induced by HB-EGF, consistent with dependence on cell-surface heparan sulfate proteoglycans. The effect of HB-EGF was also blocked by the EGF receptor (EGFR/ErbB1) inhibitors PD153035 and PD158780, implicating EGFR in HB-EGF-induced cell proliferation. The phosphatidylinositol 3′-kinase (PI3K) inhibitors LY294002 and wortmannin, and the MAPK/extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) kinase (MEK) inhibitors U0126 and PD98059, reduced HB-EGF-induced BrdU incorporation into cultures, and HB-EGF enhanced phosphorylation of Akt and ERK, implying a role for PI3K/Akt and MEK/ERK signaling in HB-EGF-stimulated cell proliferation. These findings help to clarify the molecular mechanisms through which HB-EGF operates.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)497-505
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Neuroscience Research
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 15 Aug 2005



  • Growth factors
  • Signal transduction
  • Stem cells

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