Interleukin-3 (IL-3)-dependent murine 32D cells do not detectably express epidermal growth factor receptors (EGFRs) and do not proliferate in response to EGF, heregulin (HRG) or other known EGF-like ligands. Here, we report that EGF specifically binds to and can be crosslinked to 32D transfectants co-expressing ErbB2 and ErbB3 (32D.E2/E3), but not to transfectants expressing either ErbB2 or ErbB3 individually. [125I]EGF- crosslinked species detected in 32D.E2/E3 cells were displaced by HRG and betacellulin (BTC) but not by other EGF-like ligands that were analyzed. EGF, BTC and HRG also induced receptor tyrosine phosphorylation, activation of downstream signaling molecules and proliferation of 32D.E2/E3 cells. 32D transfectants were also generated which expressed an ErbB3-EGFR chimera alone (32D.E3-E1) or in combination with ErbB2 (32D.E2/E3-E1). While HRG stimulation of 32D.E3- E1 cells resulted in DNA synthesis and receptor phosphorylation, EGF and BTC were inactive. However, EGF and BTC were as effective as HRG in mediating signaling when ErbB2 was co-expressed with the chimera in the 32D.E2/E3-E1 transfectant. These results provide evidence that ErbB2/ErbB3 binding sites for EGF and BTC are formed by a previously undescribed mechanism that requires co-expression of two distinct receptors. Additional data utilizing MDA MB134 human breast carcinoma cells, which naturally express ErbB2 and ErbB3 in the absence of EGFRs, supported the results obtained employing 32D cells and suggest that EGF and BTC may contribute to the progression of carcinomas that co-express ErbB2 and ErbB3.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Cancer Institute (NCI)
Intramural Research (Z01)
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Special Emphasis Panel (LCMB)
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National Cancer Institute Division of Basic Sciences
United States
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