Molecular mechanism of EGFR signaling evoked by environmental pollutant 1,2-naphthoquinone

Tomoki Tsuchida, Takashi Uehara

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) is the most extensively examined receptor tyrosine kinase. Several EGFR mutations and modifications have been shown to induce self-activation, which plays a central role in carcinogenesis. Recently, environmental chemicals such as PM2.5 can also activate EGFR and become risk factors for cancer. Although, the detailed mechanism remains unknown. In this study, we focused on 1,2-naphthoquinone (1,2-NQ) which is a secondary metabolite of naphthalene. Humans are exposed to 1,2-NQ through the combustion of fossil and diesel fuel and from tobacco smoke and PM2.5. Here, we demonstrate that 1,2-NQ is a novel EGFR-specific activator. We found that 1,2-NQ forms a covalent bond called N-arylation with EGFR Lys80 which is in the extracellular domain by LC-MS/MS. This modification activates the EGFR-Akt signaling pathway, which inhibits serum deprivation-induced apoptosis in A549 cells. Our study reveals an original mode of EGFR activation via covalent binding. We propose the correlation between EGFR activation without ligands and environmental pollutant-associated diseases such as cancer.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)352-355
Number of pages4
JournalFolia Pharmacologica Japonica
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology


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