F. Gebhardt, H. Bürger, B. Brandt
Jul 1, 2000
Histology and histopathology
The epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) plays a crucial role in growth, differentiation and motility of normal as well as tumor cells. The transduction of extracellular signals to the cytoplasm via the receptor not only depends on ligand binding, but is also determined by the receptor density on the cell surface. Therefore, in terms of cancer diagnosis and therapeutic approaches targeting EGFR it is decisive to know how the expression level of EGFR is controlled. We found that transcription activity declines with increasing numbers of CA dinucleotides of a highly polymorphic CA repeat in the first intron epidermal growth factor receptor gene. In vivo data from cultured cell lines support these findings, although other regulation mechanisms can compensate this effect. In addition, we showed that RNA elongation terminates at a site closely downstream of the simple sequence repeat (SSR) and that there are two separate major transcription start sites. Model calculations for the helical DNA conformation revealed a high bendability in the EGFR polymorphic region, especially if the CA stretch is extended. These data suggest that the CA-SSR can act like a joint bringing the promoter in proximity to a putative repressor protein bound downstream of the CA-SSR. The data suggest that this polymorphism is a marker for cancer linking genetic and epigenetic risk. Furthermore in breast cancer, heterozygous tumours with short CA-SSR showed an elevated EGFR-expression in contrast to tumours with longer CA-SSR. Tumours with loss of heterozygosity in intron 1 of egfr revealed an increased EGFR expression if the longer allele was lost. Moreover, deceased egfr gene dosages were significantly correlated to poor prognosis in breast cancer.