Functional and structural stability of the epidermal growth factor receptor in detergent micelles and phospholipid nanodiscs.
ABSTRACT: Cellular signaling mediated by the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR or ErbB) family of receptor tyrosine kinases plays an important role in regulating normal and oncogenic cellular physiology. While structures of isolated EGFR extracellular domains and intracellular protein tyrosine kinase domains have suggested mechanisms for growth factor-mediated receptor dimerization and allosteric kinase domain activation, understanding how the transmembrane and juxtamembrane domains contribute to transmembrane signaling requires structural studies on intact receptor molecules. In this report, recombinant EGFR constructs containing the extracellular, transmembrane, juxtamembrane, and kinase domains are overexpressed and purified from human embryonic kidney 293 cell cultures. The oligomerization state, overall structure, and functional stability of the purified EGF-bound receptor are characterized in detergent micelles and phospholipid bilayers. In the presence of EGF, catalytically active EGFR dimers can be isolated by gel filtration in dodecyl maltoside. Visualization of the dimeric species by negative stain electron microscopy and single particle averaging reveals an overall structure of the extracellular domain that is similar to previously published crystal structures and is consistent with the C-termini of domain IV being juxtaposed against one another as they enter the transmembrane domain. Although detergent-soluble preparations of EGFR are stable as dimers in the presence of EGF, they exhibit differential functional stability in Triton X-100 versus dodecyl maltoside. Furthermore, the kinase activity can be significantly stabilized by reconstituting purified EGF-bound EGFR dimers in phospholipid nanodiscs or vesicles, suggesting that the environment around the hydrophobic transmembrane and amphipathic juxtamembrane domains is important for stabilizing the tyrosine kinase activity in vitro.
Project description:Dimerization-driven activation of the intracellular kinase domains of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) upon extracellular ligand binding is crucial to cellular pathways regulating proliferation, migration, and differentiation. Inactive EGFR can exist as both monomers and dimers, suggesting that the mechanism regulating EGFR activity may be subtle. The membrane itself may play a role but creates substantial difficulties for structural studies. Our molecular dynamics simulations of membrane-embedded EGFR suggest that, in ligand-bound dimers, the extracellular domains assume conformations favoring dimerization of the transmembrane helices near their N termini, dimerization of the juxtamembrane segments, and formation of asymmetric (active) kinase dimers. In ligand-free dimers, by holding apart the N termini of the transmembrane helices, the extracellular domains instead favor C-terminal dimerization of the transmembrane helices, juxtamembrane segment dissociation and membrane burial, and formation of symmetric (inactive) kinase dimers. Electrostatic interactions of EGFR's intracellular module with the membrane are critical in maintaining this coupling.
Project description:To our knowledge, no structural study to date has characterized, in an intact receptor, the coupling of conformational change in extracellular domains through a single-pass transmembrane domain to conformational change in cytoplasmic domains. Here we examine such coupling, and its unexpected complexity, using nearly full-length epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) and negative-stain EM. The liganded, dimeric EGFR ectodomain can couple both to putatively active, asymmetrically associated kinase dimers and to putatively inactive, symmetrically associated kinase dimers and monomers. Inhibitors that stabilize the active or inactive conformation of the kinase active site, as well as mutations in the kinase dimer interface and a juxtamembrane phosphorylation site, shift the equilibrium among the three kinase association states. This coupling of one conformation of an activated receptor ectodomain to multiple kinase-domain arrangements reveals previously unanticipated complexity in transmembrane signaling and facilitates regulation of receptor function in the juxtamembrane and cytoplasmic environments.
Project description:The epidermal growth factor (EGF) receptor (EGFR) undergoes ligand-dependent dimerization to initiate transmembrane signaling. Although crystallographic structures of the extracellular and kinase domains are available, ligand binding has not been quantitatively analyzed taking the influence of both domains into account. Here, we developed a model explicitly accounting for conformational changes of the kinase and extracellular domains, their dimerizations and ligand binding to monomeric and dimeric receptor species. The model was fitted to ligand binding data of suspended cells expressing receptors with active or inactive kinase conformations. Receptor dimers with inactive, symmetric configuration of the kinase domains exhibit positive cooperativity and very weak binding affinity for the first ligand, whereas dimers with active, asymmetric kinase dimers are characterized by negative cooperativity and subnanomolar binding affinity for the first ligand. The homodimerization propensity of EGFR monomers with active kinase domains is ?100-times higher than that of dimers with inactive kinase domains. Despite this fact, constitutive, ligand-independent dimers are mainly generated from monomers with inactive kinase domains due to the excess of such monomers in the membrane. The experimental finding of increased positive cooperativity at high expression levels of EGFR was recapitulated by the model. Quantitative prediction of ligand binding to different receptor species revealed that EGF binds to receptor monomers and dimers in an expression-level dependent manner without significant recruitment of monomers to dimers upon EGF stimulation below the phase transition temperature of the membrane. Results of the fitting offer unique insight into the workings of the EGFR.
Project description:Transmembrane (TM) helix and juxtamembrane (JM) domains (TM-JM) bridge the extracellular and intracellular domains of single-pass membrane proteins, including epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR). TM-JM dimerization plays a crucial role in regulation of EGFR kinase activity at the cytoplasmic side. Although the interaction of JM with membrane lipids is thought to be important to turn on EGF signaling, and phosphorylation of Thr654 on JM leads to desensitization, the underlying kinetic mechanisms remain unclear. In particular, how Thr654 phosphorylation regulates EGFR activity is largely unknown. Here, combining single-pair FRET imaging and nanodisc techniques, we showed that phosphatidylinositol 4,5-bis phosphate (PIP2) facilitated JM dimerization effectively. We also found that Thr654 phosphorylation dissociated JM dimers in the membranes containing acidic lipids, suggesting that Thr654 phosphorylation electrostatically prevented the interaction with basic residues in JM and acidic lipids. Based on the single-molecule experiment, we clarified the kinetic pathways of the monomer (inactive state)-to-dimer (active state) transition of JM domains and alteration in the pathways depending on the membrane lipid species and Thr654 phosphorylation.
Project description:Epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) interacts through its extracellular domain with seven different growth factors. These factors induce different structures within the cytoplasmic juxtamembrane (JM) segment of the dimeric receptor and propagate different growth factor-dependent signals to the cell interior. How this process occurs is unknown. Here we apply diverse experimental and computational tools to show that growth factor identity is encoded by the EGFR transmembrane (TM) helix into discrete helix dimer populations that differ in both cross-location and cross-angle. Helix dimers with smaller cross-angles at multiple cross locations are decoded to induce an EGF-type coiled coil in the adjacent JM, whereas helix dimers with larger cross-angles at fewer cross locations induce the TGF-?-type coiled coil. We propose an updated model for how conformational coupling across multiple EGFR domains results in growth factor-specific information transfer, and demonstrate that this model applies to both EGFR and the related receptor ErbB2.
Project description:Phosphatidylinositol-4,5-bisphosphate [PI(4,5)P(2) or PIP(2)] is a direct modulator of a diverse array of proteins in eukaryotic cells. The functional integrity of transmembrane proteins, such as ion channels and transporters, is critically dependent on specific interactions with PIP(2) and other phosphoinositides. Here, we report a novel requirement for PIP(2) in the activation of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR). Down-regulation of PIP(2) levels either via pharmacological inhibition of PI kinase activity, or via manipulation of the levels of the lipid kinase PIP5K1? and the lipid phosphatase synaptojanin, reduced EGFR tyrosine phosphorylation, whereas up-regulation of PIP(2) levels via overexpression of PIP5K1? had the opposite effect. A cluster of positively charged residues in the juxtamembrane domain (basic JD) of EGFR is likely to mediate binding of EGFR to PIP(2) and PIP(2)-dependent regulation of EGFR activation. A peptide mimicking the EGFR juxtamembrane domain that was assayed by surface plasmon resonance displayed strong binding to PIP(2). Neutralization of positively charged amino acids abolished EGFR/PIP(2) interaction in the context of this peptide and down-regulated epidermal growth factor (EGF)-induced EGFR auto-phosphorylation and EGF-induced EGFR signaling to ion channels in the context of the full-length receptor. These results suggest that EGFR activation and downstream signaling depend on interactions of EGFR with PIP(2) and point to the basic JD's critical involvement in these interactions. The addition of this very different class of membrane proteins to ion channels and transporters suggests that PIP(2) may serve as a general modulator of the activity of many diverse eukaryotic transmembrane proteins through their basic JDs.
Project description:We study a mechanism by which dimerization of the EGF receptor (EGFR) cytoplasmic domain is transmitted to the ectodomain. Therapeutic and other small molecule antagonists to the kinase domain that stabilize its active conformation, but not those that stabilize an inactive conformation, stabilize ectodomain dimerization. Inhibitor-induced dimerization requires an asymmetric kinase domain interface associated with activation. EGF and kinase inhibitors stimulate formation of identical dimer interfaces in the EGFR transmembrane domain, as shown by disulfide cross-linking. Disulfide cross-linking at an interface in domain IV in the ectodomain was also stimulated similarly; however, EGF but not inhibitors stimulated cross-linking in domain II. Inhibitors similarly induced noncovalent dimerization in nearly full-length, detergent-solubilized EGFR as shown by gel filtration. EGFR ectodomain deletion resulted in spontaneous dimerization, whereas deletion of exons 2-7, in which extracellular domains III and IV are retained, did not. In EM, kinase inhibitor-induced dimers lacked any well defined orientation between the ectodomain monomers. Fab of the therapeutic antibody cetuximab to domain III confirmed a variable position and orientation of this domain in inhibitor-induced dimers but suggested that the C termini of domain IV of the two monomers were in close proximity, consistent with dimerization in the transmembrane domains. The results provide insights into the relative energetics of intracellular and extracellular dimerization in EGFR and have significance for physiologic dimerization through the asymmetric kinase interface, bidirectional signal transmission in EGFR, and mechanism of action of therapeutics.
Project description: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 ?-helical turns, in contrast to association throughout the membrane over five ?-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.
Project description:Signaling by the epidermal growth factor receptor requires an allosteric interaction between the kinase domains of two receptors, whereby one activates the other. We show that the intracellular juxtamembrane segment of the receptor, known to potentiate kinase activity, is able to dimerize the kinase domains. The C-terminal half of the juxtamembrane segment latches the activated kinase domain to the activator, and the N-terminal half of this segment further potentiates dimerization, most likely by forming an antiparallel helical dimer that engages the transmembrane helices of the activated receptor. Our data are consistent with a mechanism in which the extracellular domains block the intrinsic ability of the transmembrane and cytoplasmic domains to dimerize and activate, with ligand binding releasing this block. The formation of the activating juxtamembrane latch is prevented by the C-terminal tails in a structure of an inactive kinase domain dimer, suggesting how alternative dimers can prevent ligand-independent activation.
Project description:Receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs) conduct biochemical signals upon dimerization in the membrane plane. While RTKs are generally known to be activated in response to ligand binding, many of these receptors are capable of forming unliganded dimers that are likely important intermediates in the signaling process. All 58 RTKs consist of an extracellular (EC) domain, a transmembrane (TM) domain, and an intracellular domain that includes a juxtamembrane (JM) sequence and a kinase domain. Here we investigate directly the effect of the JM domain on unliganded dimer stability of FGFR3, a receptor that is critically important for skeletal development. The data suggest that FGFR3 unliganded dimers are stabilized by receptor-receptor contacts that involve the JM domains. The contribution is significant, as it is similar in magnitude to the stabilizing contribution of a pathogenic mutation and the repulsive contribution of the EC domain. Furthermore, we show that the effects of the JM domain and a TM pathogenic mutation on unliganded FGFR3 dimer stability are additive. We observe that the JM-mediated dimer stabilization occurs when the JM domain is linked to FGFR3 TM domain and not simply anchored to the plasma membrane. These results point to a coordinated stabilization of the unliganded dimeric state of FGFR3 by its JM and TM domains via a mechanism that is distinctly different from the case of another well studied receptor, EGFR.