Platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF) stimulates PDGF receptor subunit dimerization and intersubunit trans-phosphorylation.
High affinity binding of platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF) has been proposed to involve the interaction of the dimeric PDGF ligand with two receptor subunits, designated alpha and beta. We have cloned and expressed a human PDGF receptor cDNA which differs in sequence from the beta-subunit and which has the PDGF binding properties and monoclonal antibody recognition, predicted for the alpha-subunit. Scatchard analysis indicated that PDGF-AA and PDGF-AB bound to transfected alpha-subunits with affinities of Kd = 0.06 and 0.05 nM, respectively. PDGF-BB bound with a significantly lower affinity (Kd = 0.4 nM). Nevertheless, this affinity is still great enough to mediate substantial PDGF-BB binding at physiological concentrations and would be considered to be "high affinity." We have used wild-type and kinase-inactive human beta-subunits to show that PDGF binding promotes receptor subunit dimerization in intact cells. In addition, we found that PDGF stimulates tyrosine phosphorylation of the kinase-inactive beta-subunit when it is expressed with alpha-subunits. The kinase-inactive beta-subunits were phosphorylated at tyrosine 857 and 751, the major phosphorylation sites of the wild-type beta-subunit, indicating either that intra- and intermolecular phosphorylation occurs on the same sites, or that a significant fraction of receptor tyrosine phosphorylation is intermolecular.