For determination of the molecular mechanisms underlying the induction of epithelial cell hypertrophy by angiotensin II (Ang II), a well-characterized porcine renal proximal tubular cell line LLCPKcl4, which does not express endogenous Ang II receptor subtypes, was transfected with cDNA encoding Ang II subtype 1 receptor (AT1R/Cl4). Ang II transactivated the EGF receptor (EGFR) in these AT1R/Cl4 cells, which was blocked by the selective AT1R antagonist losartan but not by the selective AT2R antagonist PD123319. Ang II did not transactivate EGFR in empty vector-transfected LLCPKcl4 cells (Vector/Cl4). Ang II elicited release of soluble heparin-binding EGF-like growth factor (HB-EGF) from ATLR/Cl4 cells, and Ang II-induced EGFR activation was prevented by pretreatment with the specific HB-EGF inhibitor CRM197 or the metalloproteinase inhibitors batimastat or phenanthroline, none of which had any effect on EGFR activation by exogenously administered EGF. Ang II stimulated protein synthesis and cell hypertrophy in AT1R/Cl4 cells without increasing cell number, and signaling studies revealed that Ang II stimulated phosphorylation of the 40S ribosomal protein S6 and the eukaryotic translation initiation factor 4E-binding protein 1, the two downstream target proteins of the mammalian target of rapamycin, which is a central regulator of protein synthesis and cell size. Ang II-induced mammalian target of rapamycin activation, [3H]leucine incorporation, and cellular hypertrophy were inhibited by pretreatment with either batimastat or CRM197 or by pretreatment with rapamycin or the EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitor AG1478. Ang II also stimulated Smad 2/3 phosphorylation, which was blocked by a selective TGF-β receptor I kinase inhibitor but not by CRM197. With blockade of TGF-β receptor, Ang II-mediated hypertrophy was converted into cell proliferation, which was blocked by CRM197. In summary, this is the first demonstration that HB-EGF shedding-dependent EGFR transactivation, along with activation of TGF-β signaling pathways, mediates Ang II-induced renal tubular epithelial cell hypertrophy.
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