Epidermal growth factor (EGF) stimulates the growth of various types of cells via its cell surface tyrosine kinase receptor. The EGF receptor (EGF-R) has an on-cogenic potential when overexpressed in a wide range of tumor cells. Geldanamycin (GA) and herbimycin (HA), specific inhibitors of the cytosolic chaperone HSP 90 and its endoplasmic reticulum homologue GRP 94, were shown to accelerate degradation of the EGF-R and of its homologue p185(c)-(erbB)-2. Here we compared the effects of GA and HA on intracellular degradation and maturation of EGF-R. By using an inhibitor of proteasomal degradation, we learned that GA, but not HA, blocks processing of newly synthesized EGF-R. The effects of GA and HA on receptor degradation are mediated by the cytosolic portion of EGF-R and could be conferred to the erythropoietin receptor (EPO-R), by employing the respective chimera. Neither HA nor GA affected stability of newly synthesized EGF-R lacking the cytosolic domain (Ex EGF-R), but GA caused intracellular retention of this mutant. Taken together, our results imply that GA has two distinct targets of action on the EGF-R, one for promoting its degradation and another for mediating its intracellular retention. Apparently, degradation of the EGF-R mediated by GA or HA requires the presence of the EGF-R cytosolic domain, whereas intracellular retention in the presence of GA is coupled to the extracellular domain of the EGF-R.
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