Peptide growth factors can promote the cell migration and proliferation that is needed to repair epithelia after mechanical or chemical injury. We report here that scrape-wounding rat intestinal epithelial (RIE-1) cell monolayers caused a rapid increase in levels of heparin-binding epidermal-growth-factor-like growth factor (HB-EGF) mRNA, with a maximal response at approx. 1h. Hybridization in situ showed that transcript induction occurred primarily in cells at or near wound borders. The increase in HB-EGF mRNA was preceded by activation of the p42 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) in the wounded cell cultures. Moreover, the induction of HB-EGF mRNA was blocked by PD098059 and U0126, inhibitors that prevent the activation of p42/p44 MAPKs and extracellular signal-regulated protein kinase 5 (ERK5). Both p42 MAPK activation and HB-EGF mRNA induction were inhibited by genistein, indicating a requirement for an upstream tyrosine kinase activity. In contrast, neither response was affected by inhibition of phosphoinositide 3-kinase activity, down-regulation of protein kinase C, or disruption of the actin cytoskeleton with cytochalasin B. We conclude that scrape-wounding epithelial cell monolayers induces HB-EGF mRNA expression by a mechanism that most probably requires p42/p44 MAPK activation, although we cannot exclude a role for ERK5. Our results suggest a physiological role for locally synthesized HB-EGF in promoting epithelial repair after injury.

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