Interleukin-6 (IL-6) is a cytokine that was initially recognized as a regulator of immune and inflammatory responses, but it also regulates the growth of many tumour cells, including prostrate carcinoma. Overexpression of the growth-factor receptors ErbB2/neu and ErbB3 has been implicated in the neoplastic transformation of prostate carcinoma. Here we show that treatment of the prostate cancer cell line LNCaP with IL-6 induces tyrosine phosphorylation of ErbB2 and ErbB3, but not ErbB1/EGFR. We also show that ErbB2 forms a complex with the gp130 subunit of the IL-6 receptor in an IL- 6-dependent manner. This association is important because the inhibition of ErbB2 activity results in abrogation of IL-6-induced MAPK activation. Thus ErbB2 is a critical component of IL-6 signalling through the MAP kinase pathway. These data show how a cytokine receptor can diversify its signalling pathways by engaging with a growth-factor receptor kinase.
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