Albumin activates ERK via EGF receptor in human renal epithelial cells.

Research paper by Heather H Reich, David D Tritchler, Andrew M AM Herzenberg, Zamaneh Z Kassiri, Xiaohua X Zhou, Wei W Gao, James W JW Scholey

Indexed on: 15 Apr '05Published on: 15 Apr '05Published in: Journal of the American Society of Nephrology : JASN


Emerging clinical and experimental evidence strongly implicates proteinuria in the progression of kidney disease. One pathway involves the activation of NFkappaB by albumin, and it has been demonstrated that the activation of NFkappaB induced by albumin is dependent on mitogen-activated protein kinase ERK1/ERK2. To study the effect of albumin on gene expression, primary human renal tubular cells were exposed in vitro to albumin (1%) for 6 h, and gene expression profiling was performed with the human oligonucleotide microarray, U133A Affymetrix Gene Chip. In all, 223 genes were differentially regulated by albumin, including marked upregulation of the EGF receptor (EGFR) and IL-8. Accordingly, the authors sought to delineate the signaling pathway linking albumin to the EGFR and activation of ERK1/ERK2. It was found that albumin led to a dose- and time-dependent activation of ERK1/ERK2. Treatment with albumin led to EGFR phosphorylation, but the activation of ERK1/ERK2 was prevented by pretreatment of the cells with AG-1478, the EGFR kinase inhibitor, at a dose that inhibited EGF-induced ERK1/ERK2 activation. Exogenously administered reactive oxygen species (ROS) were found to activate ERK1/ERK2 via the EGFR and src tyrosine kinase activity and pretreatment of cells with the antioxidant N-acetylcysteine (NAC) and the NADPH oxidase inhibitor DPI abrogated albumin-induced activation of ERK1/ERK2. The src tyrosine kinase inhibitor, PP2, also inhibited the albumin-induced activation of ERK1/ERK2. Finally, pretreatment with AG-1478, the MEK inhibitor UO126, and NAC prevented the albumin-induced increase in IL-8 expression. The authors conclude that the EGF receptor plays a central role in the signaling pathway that links albumin to the activation of ERK1/ERK2 and increased expression of IL-8. Gene profiling studies suggest that there may be a positive feedback loop through the EGFR that amplifies the response of the proximal tubule cell to albumin. Taken together, these results suggest that the EGFR may be an important treatment target for kidney disease associated with proteinuria.