Hypertonic stress increases expression of cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) in renal medullary epithelial and interstitial cells. Because hypertonic COX-2 expression is, in part, sensitive to inhibition of the ERK MAPK, an effector of activated receptor tyrosine kinases such as the EGF receptor, we investigated a role for this receptor in signaling to COX-2 expression. Hypertonic stress increased COX-2 expression at the mRNA and protein levels at 6 and 24 h of hypertonic treatment. Two potent, specific inhibitors of the EGF receptor kinase, AG-1478 and PD-153035, abrogated this effect. These inhibitors also blocked the ability of hypertonic stress to increase PGE2 release; in addition, they partially blocked tonicity-dependent phosphorylation of ERK but not of the related MAPKs, JNK or p38. Pharmacological inhibition of ERK activation partially blocked tonicity-dependent COX-2 expression. Hypertonic induction of COX-2 was likely transcriptionally mediated, as NaCl stress increased luciferase reporter gene activity under control of the human COX-2 promoter, and this effect was also sensitive to inhibition of the EGF receptor kinase. Metalloproteinase action is required for transactivation of the EGF receptor. Pharmacological inhibition of metalloproteinase function blocked tonicity-inducible COX-2 expression. Furthermore, the effect of hypertonicity on COX-2 expression was also evident in the EGF-responsive Madin-Darby canine kidney and 3T3 cell lines but was virtually absent from the EGF-unresponsive (and EGF receptor null) Chinese hamster-derived CHO cell line. Taken together, these data indicate that hypertonicity-dependent COX-2 expression in medullary epithelial cells requires transactivation of the EGF receptor and, potentially, ectodomain cleavage of an EGF receptor ligand.
- Heparin-binding epidermal growth factor
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