Epidermal growth factor receptor signaling modulates apoptosis via p38α MAPK-dependent activation of Bax in intestinal epithelial cells

George Sheng, Jun Guo, Brad W. Warner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

42 Scopus citations

Abstract

Previous studies have demonstrated that the proapoptotic protein Bax plays an important role in the elevated enterocyte apoptosis that occurs during the intestinal adaptation response to massive small bowel resection (SBR). Additionally, epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) activation prevents SBR-induced enterocyte apoptosis. The present study aims to delineate the relationship between EGFR activity and intestinal epithelial cell apoptosis. Treatment of model intestinal epithelial cells (RIEC-18) with both a selective EGFR inhibitor (ZD1839) and EGFR small interfering RNA knockdown resulted in a dramatic increase in apoptosis, accompanied by rapid phosphorylation of p38α. Concurrently, Bax underwent conformational changes consistent with activation and translocated to mitochondria. In contrast, EGF stimulation enhanced cell survival by attenuating p38α phosphorylation, Bax conformational change, mitochondrial trafficking, and apoptosis. These results demonstrate that that diminished EGFR activity initiates the intrinsic pathway of apoptosis through p38α-dependent Bax activation in intestinal epithelial cells. These finding provide mechanistic insight into the role that EGFR signaling plays in the regulation of enterocyte apoptosis following massive intestinal loss.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)G599-G606
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology
Volume293
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 1 2007

Keywords

  • Intestinal adaptation
  • Short bowel syndrome

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