Mammalian EGF receptor activation by the rhomboid protease RHBDL2

Colin Adrain, Kvido Strisovsky, Markus Zettl, Landian Hu, Marius K Lemberg, Matthew Freeman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

82 Citations (Scopus)


The epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) has several functions in mammalian development and disease, particularly cancer. Most EGF ligands are synthesized as membrane-tethered precursors, and their proteolytic release activates signalling. In Drosophila, rhomboid intramembrane proteases catalyse the release of EGF-family ligands; however, in mammals this seems to be primarily achieved by ADAM-family metalloproteases. We report here that EGF is an efficient substrate of the mammalian rhomboid RHBDL2. RHBDL2 cleaves EGF just outside its transmembrane domain, thereby facilitating its secretion and triggering activation of the EGFR. We have identified endogenous RHBDL2 activity in several tumour cell lines.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)421-7
Number of pages7
JournalEMBO Reports
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Animals
  • Blotting, Western
  • COS Cells
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cercopithecus aethiops
  • Epidermal Growth Factor/metabolism
  • ErbB Receptors/metabolism
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins
  • Humans
  • Lentivirus
  • Mice
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence
  • Phenylalanine/analogs & derivatives
  • Serine Proteases/metabolism
  • Signal Transduction/genetics
  • Substrate Specificity
  • Thiophenes
  • Transduction, Genetic


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