Cell surface tyrosine kinase receptors are subject to a rapid activation by their ligand, which is followed by secondary regulatory processes. The IHE2 cell line is a unique model system to study the regulation of EGF binding to EGF receptors after activation of the EGF receptor kinase. IHE2 cells express both a chimeric insulin-EGF receptor kinase (IER) and a kinase-deficient EGF receptor (HER K721A). We have previously reported that IER is an insulin-responsive EGF receptor tyrosine kinase that activates one or several serine/threonine kinases, which in turn phosphorylate(s) the unoccupied HER K721A. In this article we show that insulin through IER activation induces a decrease in 125I-EGF binding to IHE2 cells. Scatchard analysis indicates that, as for TPA, the effect of insulin can be accounted for by a loss of the high affinity binding of EGF to HER K721A. Since this receptor transmodulation persists in protein kinase C downregulated IHE2 cells, it is likely to be due to a mechanism independent of protein kinase C activation. Using an in vitro system of 125I-EGF binding to transmodulated IHE2 membranes, we illustrate that the inhibition of EGF binding induced by IER activation is related to the phosphorylation state of HER K721A. Further, studies with phosphatase 2A, or at a temperature (4 degrees C) where only IER is functional, strongly suggest that the loss of high affinity EGF binding is related to the serine/threonine phosphorylation of HER K721A after IER activation. Our results provide evidence for a "homologous desensitization" of EGF receptor binding after activation of the EGF receptor kinase of the IER receptor.

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