An EGFR wild type-EGFRvIII-HB-EGF feed-forward loop regulates the activation of EGFRvIII

L. Li, S. Chakraborty, C. R. Yang, K. J. Hatanpaa, D. J. Cipher, V. T. Puliyappadamba, A. Rehman, A. J. Jiwani, B. Mickey, C. Madden, J. Raisanen, S. Burma, D. Saha, Z. Wang, S. C. Pingle, S. Kesari, D. A. Boothman, A. A. Habib

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


EGFRvIII is a key oncogene in glioblastoma (GBM). EGFRvIII results from an in-frame deletion in the extracellular domain of EGFR, does not bind ligand and is thought to be constitutively active. Although EGFRvIII dimerization is known to activate EGFRvIII, the factors that drive EGFRvIII dimerization and activation are not well understood. Here we present a new model of EGFRvIII activation and propose that oncogenic activation of EGFRvIII in glioma cells is driven by co-expressed activated EGFR wild type (EGFRwt). Increasing EGFRwt leads to a striking increase in EGFRvIII tyrosine phosphorylation and activation while silencing EGFRwt inhibits EGFRvIII activation. Both the dimerization arm and the kinase activity of EGFRwt are required for EGFRvIII activation. EGFRwt activates EGFRvIII by facilitating EGFRvIII dimerization. We have previously identified HB-EGF, a ligand for EGFRwt, as a gene induced specifically by EGFRvIII. In this study, we show that HB-EGF is induced by EGFRvIII only when EGFRwt is present. Remarkably, altering HB-EGF recapitulates the effect of EGFRwt on EGFRvIII activation. Thus, increasing HB-EGF leads to a striking increase in EGFRvIII tyrosine phosphorylation while silencing HB-EGF attenuates EGFRvIII phosphorylation, suggesting that an EGFRvIII-HB-EGF-EGFRwt feed-forward loop regulates EGFRvIII activation. Silencing EGFRwt or HB-EGF leads to a striking inhibition of EGFRvIII-induced tumorigenicity, while increasing EGFRwt or HB-EGF levels resulted in accelerated EGFRvIII-mediated oncogenicity in an orthotopic mouse model. Furthermore, we demonstrate the existence of this loop in human GBM. Thus, our data demonstrate that oncogenic activation of EGFRvIII in GBM is likely maintained by a continuous EGFRwt-EGFRvIII-HB-EGF loop, potentially an attractive target for therapeutic intervention.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4253-4264
Number of pages12
Issue number33
StatePublished - Aug 14 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • EGFR wild type
  • HB-EGF
  • activation
  • dimerization
  • glioblastoma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cancer Research


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