Developmental changes in neural progenitor cell lineage commitment do not depend on epidermal growth factor receptor signaling

G. Zhu, M. F. Mehler, P. C. Mabie, John A. Kessler*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Multipotent neural progenitor cells become progressively more biased towards a glial fate during development coincident with an increase in expression of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR). To determine whether differences in lineage commitment of neural progenitor cells from different stages are causally related to expression of the EGFR and whether generation of glia is EGFR-dependent, we used an EGFR-specific tyrosine kinase inhibitor, PD158780, to block the activation of EGFR in progenitor cells. Treatment of cultured neonatal progenitor cells with PD158780 completely blocked EGF-induced proliferation of the cells but did not affect bFGF-induced proliferation. Nevertheless, treatment with the inhibitor failed to inhibit the generation of astroglia in the presence of either EGF or bFGF. Treatment with bone morphogenetic protein-2 (BMP2) enhanced astroglial differentiation and suppressed oligodendroglial (OL) differentiation. PD158780 treatment had no effect on the BMP2-induced astroglial differentiation or OL suppression. These observations suggest that the generation of astroglia is not dependent on EGFR activation. Because it was still possible that the progenitor cell responses reflected a prior history of EGFR signaling, rat forebrain cells were cultured in the presence of PD158780 from a time (E12.5) preceding expression of the EGFR. After time in culture, the E12.5 cells expressed EGFR by Western analysis both in the presence and in the absence of PD158780, but activation of EGFR kinase (receptor autophosphorylation) was undetectable in the presence of PD158780 and the cells did not proliferate in response to EGF. Nevertheless, astroglial differentiation was normal in PD158780-treated cells both in the absence and in the presence of BMPs or CNTF. Furthermore, the propensity towards glial differentiation increased with time in culture even in the absence of EGFR signaling. This suggests that the increased bias towards glial differentiation during development does not depend on EGFR signaling. (C) 2000 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)312-320
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Neuroscience Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 1 2000


  • Bone morphogenetic protein
  • EGF receptor
  • Neural lineage development
  • PD158780

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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