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Open Access Open Badges Research article

The docking protein Gab1 is the primary mediator of EGF-stimulated activation of the PI-3K/Akt cell survival pathway

Dawn R Mattoon12, Betty Lamothe13, Irit Lax1 and Joseph Schlessinger1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Pharmacology, Yale University School of Medicine, PO Box 208066, New Haven, CT 06520-8066, USA

2 Current address: Protometrix, Inc./Invitrogen, 688 East Main Street, Branford, CT 06405, USA

3 Current address: Department of Bioimmunotherapy, M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, 1515 Holcombe Blvd. Box 0143. Houston, TX 77030, USA

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BMC Biology 2004, 2:24  doi:10.1186/1741-7007-2-24

Published: 18 November 2004



Gab1 is a docking protein that recruits phosphatidylinositol-3 kinase (PI-3 kinase) and other effector proteins in response to the activation of many receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs). As the autophosphorylation sites on EGF-receptor (EGFR) do not include canonical PI-3 kinase binding sites, it is thought that EGF stimulation of PI-3 kinase and its downstream effector Akt is mediated by an indirect mechanism.


We used fibroblasts isolated from Gab1-/- mouse embryos to explore the mechanism of EGF stimulation of the PI-3 kinase/Akt anti-apoptotic cell signaling pathway. We demonstrate that Gab1 is essential for EGF stimulation of PI-3 kinase and Akt in these cells and that these responses are mediated by complex formation between p85, the regulatory subunit of PI-3 kinase, and three canonical tyrosine phosphorylation sites on Gab1. Furthermore, complex formation between Gab1 and the protein tyrosine phosphatase Shp2 negatively regulates Gab1 mediated PI-3 kinase and Akt activation following EGF-receptor stimulation. We also demonstrate that tyrosine phosphorylation of ErbB3 may lead to recruitment and activation of PI-3 kinase and Akt in Gab1-/- MEFs.


The primary mechanism of EGF-induced stimulation of the PI-3 kinase/Akt anti-apoptotic pathway occurs via the docking protein Gab1. However, in cells expressing ErbB3, EGF and neuroregulin can stimulate PI-3 kinase and Akt activation in a Gab1-dependent or Gab1-independent manner.