Previous reports have suggested that phorbol esters can decrease the affinity of epidermal growth factor (EGF) for its cellular receptors. Investigations of the consequences of the interaction between phorbol esters and EGF, however, have been limited to EGF-stimulated Na/H exchange in A431 cells (Whitely, B., D. Cassel, Y.-X. Zuang, and L. Glaser, 1984, J. Cell Biol., 99:1162-1166). In the present study, the effect of the phorbol ester 12-O-tetradecanoyl phorbol-13-acetate (TPA) on EGF-stimulated ion transport and DNA synthesis was determined in cultured vascular smooth muscle cells (A7r5). It was found that TPA stimulated Na/H exchange when added alone (half-maximal stimulatory concentration, 25 nM). However, when cells were pretreated with TPA and then challenged with EGF, TPA significantly inhibited EGF-stimulated Na/H exchange (78%; half-maximal inhibition [Ki] at 2.5 nM). Subsequently the effects of TPA on Na/K/Cl co-transport were measured. TPA was observed to inhibit Na/K/Cl co-transport (half-maximal inhibitory concentration, 50 nM) and also to inhibit EGF-stimulated Na/K/Cl co-transport (100%; Ki at 5 nM). Finally, the effects of TPA on DNA synthesis were assessed. TPA had a modest stimulatory effect on DNA synthesis (half-maximal stimulatory concentration, 6 nM), but had a significant inhibitory effect on EGF-stimulated DNA synthesis (56%; Ki at 5 nM). These findings suggest that the inhibitory effect of TPA on EGF-receptor functions goes beyond previously reported effects on Na/H exchange in A431 cells and extends to EGF-stimulation of Na/K/Cl co-transport and DNA synthesis in vascular smooth muscle cells.

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