Various mitogenic stimuli such as epidermal growth factor (EGF), fibroblast growth factor (FGF), and phorbol 12,13-dibutyrate (PDBu) activate the Ras-Raf-MEK-ERK pathway, but the regulatory mechanism of this pathway remains to be investigated. Here we found that in 293 cells, mammalian Sprouty2 and Sprouty4 were rapidly induced by EGF, FGF, and PDBu in an ERK pathway-dependent manner. Forced expression of Sprouty2 and Sprouty4 inhibited FGF-induced ERK activation but did not affect EGF- or PDBu-induced ERK activation. To examine whether endogenous Sproutys were also selective inhibitors, we generated a dominant negative form of Sprouty2 (Y55A) and Sprouty4 (Y53A) in which conserved tyrosine residues were mutated. These mutants reverted the suppressive effect of both Sprouty2 and Sprouty4 but not that of RasGAP or SPRED (Sprouty-related EVH1 domain-containing protein), another Sprouty-related Ras suppressor. Expression of dominant negative Sprouty2 and Sprouty4 enhanced and prolonged FGF- but not EGF-induced ERK activation in 293 cells. In PC12 cells, endogenous Sprouty4 was also induced by FGF. Overexpression of wild-type Sprouty4 blocked FGF-induced differentiation, whereas Y53A-Sprouty4 enhanced it. These observations suggest that endogenous Sprouty2 and Sprouty4 are physiological negative feedback regulators of growth factor-mediated ERK pathway and that there are Sprouty-sensitive and -insensitive ERK activation pathways. Finding a dominant negative form of Sproutys will facilitate the study of the molecular mechanism and physiological function of Sproutys.
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