Treatment of [32P]phosphate prelabeled intact human A431 epidermoid carcinoma cells with epidermal growth factor (EGF, 100 ng/ml) or 12-O-tetradecanoylphorbol-13-acetate (TPA, 10-7m) resulted in a selective enhancement in the phosphorylation of the following soluble acidic proteins: a phosphoprotein with a molecular weight of 17,000 (pp17; similar notation used throughout) pI ∼5.5); pp27 (pI ∼5.5); pp34 (pI ∼6.2); and pp80 (pI ∼4.5) as detected by two-dimensional gel electrophoresis. EGF or TPA induced a 4- to 6-fold increase in the phosphorylation of pp17 and a 2- to 4-fold increase in the phosphorylation of pp27, pp34, and pp80 within 15 min after treatment of subconfluent A431 cells. Alkali treatment of the gels removed most of the incorporated [32P] phosphate from the phosphoproteins, including pp27, pp34, and pp80; however, the phosphoester bond in pp17 was stable to alkaline hydrolysis since there was no removal of [32P]phosphate from this protein. Treatment of A431 cells with dibutyryl cyclic adenosine 3′:5′-monophosphate (1 mm) also increased the phosphorylation of pp17, pp27, and pp34 but not of pp80. Activation of endogenous calcium- and phospholipid-dependent protein kinase C in the cytosol of A431 cells in a cell-free system resulted in the enhanced phosphorylation of pp27, pp34, and pp80 but not of pp17 while exogenous addition of the catalytic subunit of cyclic adenosine 3′:5′-monophosphate-dependent protein kinase to cytosol preparations resulted in the phosphorylation of pp17, pp27, and pp34, but not of pp80. These results demonstrate that at least four soluble acidic proteins are phosphorylated in A431 cells in response to either EGF or TPA in vivo suggesting that these two agents may exert part of their biological effects on A431 cells through a biochemical pathway involving the phosphorylation of several common proteins; moreover, the studies suggest that these four acidic proteins may be substrates in vitro for protein kinase C and/or a cyclic adenosine 3′:5′-monophosphate-dependent protein kinase.

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