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Abstract

Compound 5 (Cpd 5), a K vitamin analog, has been shown to inhibit Hep3B human hepatoma cell growth in cultures and rat hepatoma growth in vivo through prolonged epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR)–extracellular response kinase (ERK) phosphorylation, and hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) synergizes with Cpd 5 to enhance the inhibition of Hep3B cell and rat hepatoma growth. To explore the mechanisms mediating the HGF/Cpd 5 synergy, we examined the possible involvement of the Grb2-associated binder-1 (Gab1) docking protein because it interacts with both EGFR and HGF receptor c-Met pathways. We found that HGF enhanced Cpd 5–induced c-Met phosphorylation at Tyr-1349, a binding site for Gab1, resulting in increased c-Met binding to Gab1, and induced strong and prolonged Gab1 tyrosine phosphorylation. Prolonged Gab1 phosphorylation by HGF/Cpd 5 in turn enhanced the ability of Gab1 to bind to protein tyrosine phosphatase SHP2 and enhanced the activation of its downstream mitogen-activated protein kinase pathway. In contrast, this same HGF/Cpd 5 treatment inhibited Gab1 binding to phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K), leading to the inactivation of the PI3K-Akt pathway. The inhibition of Akt phosphorylation by HGF/Cpd 5 further activated the Raf-MEK-ERK signaling cascade via an Akt-Raf1 interaction, leading to strong and prolonged ERK phosphorylation. The transfection of Hep3B cells with mutated Gab1 (Gab1 Y627F), which had lost its ability to bind SHP2, antagonized HGF/Cpd 5–induced ERK phosphorylation, whereas the transfection of Hep3B cells with mutated Gab1 3YF, which lost its ability to bind PI3K, further enhanced HGF/Cpd 5–induced ERK phosphorylation and cell growth inhibition. Conclusion: Gab1 plays a central role in regulating HGF/Cpd 5 synergy in their actions on Hep3B cell growth inhibition. (HEPATOLOGY 2007;46:2003–2013.)