Comparison of paclitaxel-, 5-fluoro-2'-deoxyuridine-, and epidermal growth factor (EGF)-induced apoptosis: Evidence for EGF-induced anoikis

Timothy J. Kottke, April L. Blajeski, L. Miguel Martins, Peter W. Mesner, Nancy E. Davidson, William C. Earnshaw, Deborah K. Armstrong, Scott H. Kaufmann

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80 Scopus citations


Epidermal growth factor (EGF), a hormone that stimulates proliferation of many cell types, induces apoptosis in some cell lines that overexpress the EGF receptor. To evaluate the mechanism of EGF-induced apoptosis, MDA-MB-468 breast cancer cells were examined by microscopy, flow cytometry, immunoblotting, enzyme assays, and affinity labeling after treatment with EGF, paclitaxel, or 5-fluoro-2'-deoxyuridine (5FUdR). Apoptosis induced by all three agents was accompanied by activation of caspases-3, -6, and -7, as indicated by disappearance of the corresponding zymogens from immunoblots, cleavage of substrate polypeptides in situ, and detection of active forms of these caspases in cytosol and nuclei using fluorogenic assays and affinity labeling. Further analysis indicated involvement of the cytochrome c/Apaf- 1/caspase-9 pathway of caspase activation, but not the Fas/Fas ligand pathway. Interestingly, caspase activation was consistently lower after EGF treatment than after paclitaxel or 5FUdR treatment. Additional experiments revealed that the majority of cells detaching from the substratum after EGF (but not paclitaxel or 5FUdR) were morphologically normal and retained the capacity to readhere, suggesting that EGF-induced apoptosis involves cell detachment followed by anoikis. These observations not only indicate that EGF- and chemotherapy-induced apoptosis in this cell line involve the same downstream pathways but also suggest that detachment-induced apoptosis is responsible for the paradoxical antiproliferative effects of EGF.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)15927-15936
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number22
StatePublished - May 28 1999

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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