The epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) family of tyrosine kinases is involved in the growth of normal and tumour cells. The specific contribution of each of the four family members to these processes remains unclear. In the present study we have used a PCR-based subtractive approach to identify differences in messages induced in response to activation of ErbB3 and EGFR. The approach described is a modification of the representational difference analysis technique adapted for analysis of cDNA, which we have modified to permit identification of differential gene expression using as little as 20 μg of total RNA as the starting material. The mRNA obtained from EGF-stimulated NIH-3T3 cells expressing chimaeric EGFR-ErbB3 receptors provided the tester amplicons (small PCR-amplified fragments) which were subtracted against driver amplicons derived from unstimulated NIH-3T3 cells expressing the EGFR-ErbB3 chimaera or EGF-stimulated NIH-3T3 cells overexpressing the EGFR. A total of 22 different clones were isolated, 90% of which showed increased expression in the tester amplicons. Six of these, corresponding to known DNA sequences, were selected for further Northern blot analysis against total RNA prepared from the starting cell lines. Of these, the gene encoding the protein dlk (or a closely related protein, Pref-1) was identified as being regulated by ErbB3 but not by the EGFR. Other genes appeared to be elevated by both ErbB3 and EGFR, including those encoding c-jun, Ret finger protein (RFP), neuroleukin and amyloid protein precursor. One gene product, TIS11, was identified as being regulated by EGFR but not by ErbB3.

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Author notes


These authors contributed equally to this work.