We examined effect of the tyrosine kinase inhibitor herbimycin A on A431 human epidermoid carcinoma cells which over-express epidermal growth factor (EGF) receptor. Herbimycin A inhibited the autophosphorylation of EGF-stimulated receptors in intact cells both time- and dose-dependently. The inhibition was found to be due to a decrease in the level of expression of the receptor amount, because herbimycin A equally decreased the receptor quantity and EGF-stimulated receptor kinase activity in intact cells, but did not exhibit a direct inhibitory effect on EGF receptor kinase activity in vitro. The decrease of the level of EGF receptor was also confirmed by 125I-EGF binding to herbimycin A-treated cells, and Scatchard analysis showed that the decrease in the receptor number occurred in the major population of the low-affinity binding ones, whereas the number with high-affinity binding was unaffected. Interestingly, although the proliferation of A431 cells was inhibited by EGF, herbimycin A converted EGF into a stimulatory ligand for cell growth, as determined by both cell number and DNA synthesis. These findings indicated that herbimycin A decreased the level of expression of EGF receptor by a mechanism other than inactivation of the receptor kinase and reversed the transformed phenotype of A431 cells to a normal one in the proliferative response to EGF.
- © 1994 The Biochemical Society, London