Deoxycholic acid mediates non-canonical EGFR-MAPK activation through the induction of calcium signaling in colon cancer cells

Sara M. Centuori, Cecil J. Gomes, Jesse Trujillo, Jamie Borg, Joshua Brownlee, Charles W. Putnam, Jesse D. Martinez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


Obesity and a western diet have been linked to high levels of bile acids and the development of colon cancer. Specifically, increased levels of the bile acid deoxycholic acid (DCA), an established tumor promoter, has been shown to correlate with increased development of colorectal adenomas and progression to carcinoma. Herein we investigate the mechanism by which DCA leads to EGFR-MAPK activation, a candidate mechanism by which DCA may promote colorectal tumorigenesis. DCA treated colon cancer cells exhibited strong and prolonged activation of ERK1/2 when compared to EGF treatment alone. We also showed that DCA treatment prevents EGFR degradation as opposed to the canonical EGFR recycling observed with EGF treatment. Moreover, the combination of DCA and EGF treatment displayed synergistic activity, suggesting DCA activates MAPK signaling in a non-canonical manner. Further evaluation showed that DCA treatment increased intracellular calcium levels and CAMKII phosphorylation, and that blocking calcium with BAPTA-AM abrogated MAPK activation induced by DCA, but not by EGF. Finally we showed that DCA-induced CAMKII leads to MAPK activation through the recruitment of c-Src. Taken together, we demonstrated that DCA regulates MAPK activation through calcium signaling, an alternative mechanism not previously recognized in human colon cancer cells. Importantly, this mechanism allows for EGFR to escape degradation and thus achieve a constitutively active state, which may explain its tumor promoting effects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)663-670
Number of pages8
JournalBiochimica et Biophysica Acta - Molecular and Cell Biology of Lipids
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1 2016


  • Bile acids
  • Calcium signaling
  • Colon cancer
  • DCA
  • EGFR activation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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