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Structural evidence for loose linkage between ligand binding and kinase activation in the epidermal growth factor receptor.

Lu C., Mi L.Z., Grey M.J., Zhu J., Graef E., Yokoyama S., Springer T.A.

The mechanisms by which signals are transmitted across the plasma membrane to regulate signaling are largely unknown for receptors with single-pass transmembrane domains such as the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR). A crystal structure of the extracellular domain of EGFR dimerized by epidermal growth factor (EGF) reveals the extended, rod-like domain IV and a small, hydrophobic domain IV interface compatible with flexibility. The crystal structure and disulfide cross-linking suggest that the 7-residue linker between the extracellular and transmembrane domains is flexible. Disulfide cross-linking of the transmembrane domain shows that EGF stimulates only moderate association in the first two α-helical turns, in contrast to association throughout the membrane over five α-helical turns in glycophorin A and integrin. Furthermore, systematic mutagenesis to leucine and phenylalanine suggests that no specific transmembrane interfaces are required for EGFR kinase activation. These results suggest that linkage between ligand-induced dimerization and tyrosine kinase activation is much looser than was previously envisioned.

Mol. Cell. Biol. 30:5432-5443(2010) [PubMed] [Europe PMC]

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