Hexavalent chromium (Cr(VI)) compounds are well-established lung carcinogens. Epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) is a tyrosine kinase transmembrane receptor that regulates cell survival, tumor invasion, and angiogenesis. Our results show that chronic exposure of human bronchial epithelial (BEAS-2B) cells to Cr(VI) is able to cause malignant cell transformation. These transformed cells exhibit apoptosis resistance with reduced poly ADP-ribose polymerase cleavage (C-PARP) and Bax expression and enhanced expressions of Bcl-2 and Bcl-xL. These transformed cells also exhibit reduced capacity of reactive oxygen species (ROS) generation along with elevated expression of antioxidant manganese superoxide dismutase 2 (SOD2). The expression of this antioxidant was also elevated in lung tumor tissue from a worker exposed to Cr(VI) for 19 years. EGFR was activated in Cr(VI)-transformed BEAS-2B cells, lung tissue from animals exposed to Cr(VI) particles, and human lung tumor tissue. Further study indicates that constitutive activation of EGFR in Cr(VI)-transformed cells was due to increased binding to its ligand amphiregulin (AREG). Inhibition of EGFR or AREG increased Bax expression and reduced Bcl-2 expression, resulting in reduced apoptosis resistance. Furthermore, inhibition of AREG or EGFR restored capacity of ROS generation and decreased SOD2 expression. PI3K/AKT was activated, which depended on EGFR in Cr(VI)-transformed BEAS-2B cells. Inhibition of PI3K/AKT increased ROS generation and reduced SOD2 expression, resulting in reduced apoptosis resistance with commitment increase in Bax expression and reduction of Bcl-2 expression. Xenograft mouse tumor study further demonstrates the essential role of EGFR in tumorigenesis of Cr(VI)-transformed cells. In summary, the present study suggests that ligand-dependent constitutive activation of EGFR causes reduced ROS generation and increased antioxidant expression, leading to development of apoptosis resistance, contributing to Cr(VI)-induced tumorigenesis.
|Number of pages||12|
|Journal||Journal of Biological Chemistry|
|State||Published - Jan 23 2015|
Bibliographical notePublisher Copyright:
© 2015 by The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Inc.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Biology
- Cell Biology