The EGF receptor (EGFR) upon activation signals increased cell movement. However, the domains within the receptor, and the pathway which trigger movement are undefined. We expressed EGFR mutants at physiologic levels in receptor-devoid NR6 cells to investigate this biologic response. The receptors possessed kinase activity and underwent autophosphorylation as predicted by primary amino acid sequence. EGF-induced cell motility was assessed in vitro by excess migration into an acellular area and colony scatter in the presence of saturating concentrations of EGF. Wild-type (WT)-EGFR signaled increased motility. However, replacing the conserved lysine721 with methionine resulted in a kinase-inactive receptor which did not elicit movement. Removal of the entire terminus by truncation (c'973) also abrogated ligand-induced motility. Thus, we concentrated on the carboxy-terminal domains. EGF-induced movement was seen with a less-truncated mutant (c'1000) that contained a single autophosphorylated tyrosine (tyrosine992). Other mutants, c'991 and c'1000F992, in which this tyrosine was removed did not signal motility. Fusion mutants which presented other autophosphorylated tyrosine domains also exhibited EGF-induced movement. These findings suggested that the presence of both an autophosphorylated tyrosine signaling domain and the kinase activity are necessary for this biologic response. All kinase-positive mutants signaled cell proliferation but only those that contained autophosphorylatable tyrosines induced movement. The motility responses mediated by these EGFR were identical in the presence or absence of mitomycin-C, at a dose (0.5 micrograms/ml) which completely inhibited cell proliferation. On the other side, D-actinomycin (50 ng/ml) blocked EGF-induced motility but did not affect thymidine incorporation. Thus, EGF-induced mitogenesis and cell motility are mediated through different pathways.

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