J. Neurochem. (2011) 10.1111/j.1471-4159.2011.07295.x
Epidermal growth factor (EGF) and structurally related peptides promote neuronal survival and the development of midbrain dopaminergic neurons; however, the regulation of their production has not been fully elucidated. In this study, we found that the treatment of striatal cells with dopamine agonists enhances EGF release both in vivo and in vitro. We prepared neuron-enriched and non-neuronal cell-enriched cultures from the striatum of rat embryos and challenged those with various neurotransmitters or dopamine receptor agonists. Dopamine and a dopamine D1-like receptor agonist (SKF38393) triggered EGF release from neuron-enriched cultures in a dose-dependent manner. A D2-like agonist (quinpirole) increased EGF release only from non-neuronal cell-enriched cultures. The EGF release from striatal neurons and non-neuronal cells was concomitant with ErbB1 phosphorylation and/or with the activation of a disintegrin and metalloproteinase and matrix metalloproteinase. The EGF release from neurons was attenuated by an a disintegrin and metalloproteinase/matrix metalloproteinase inhibitor, GM6001, and a calcium ion chelator, BAPTA/AM. Transfection of cultured striatal neurons with alkaline phosphatase-tagged EGF precursor cDNA confirmed that dopamine D1-like receptor stimulation promoted both ectodomain shedding of the precursor and EGF release. Therefore, the activation of striatal dopamine receptors induces shedding and release of EGF to provide a retrograde neurotrophic signal to midbrain dopaminergic neurons.