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J Biol Chem. 2003 Jan 31;278(5):2799-806. Epub 2002 Nov 11.

Receptor-ligand interaction between vitellogenin receptor (VtgR) and vitellogenin (Vtg), implications on low density lipoprotein receptor and apolipoprotein B/E. The first three ligand-binding repeats of VtgR interact with the amino-terminal region of Vtg.

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  • 1Department of Biological Sciences, National University of Singapore, Singapore 119260.


The vitellogenin receptor (VtgR) belongs to the low density lipoprotein receptor (LDLR) gene family. It mediates the uptake of vitellogenin (Vtg) in oocyte development of oviparous animals. In this study, we cloned and characterized two forms of Oreochromis aureus VtgR. Northern analysis showed that VtgR was specifically expressed in ovarian tissues. However, reverse transcription-PCR indicates that either there are trace levels of expression of VtgR or a homolog of LDLR exists in nonovarian tissues. The VtgR is highly homologous to the very low density lipoprotein receptor. To better understand the mechanism by which similar structural modules in the ligand-binding domain bind different ligands, we used the yeast two-hybrid system to screen for the minimal interaction motifs in Vtg and VtgR. The amino-terminal region of the lipovitellin I domain of Vtg interacts with the ligand-binding domain of VtgR. The first three ligand-binding repeats of the receptor were found to be essential for ligand binding. Computational analysis of the binding sequence indicates that Vtg has a similar receptor-binding region to apolipoprotein (apo) E and apoB. Site-directed mutagenesis of this region indicates electrostatic interaction between Vtg and its receptor. Sequence analysis suggests the coevolution of receptor-ligand pairs for the LDLR/apo superfamily and suggests that the mode of binding of LDLR/very low density lipoprotein receptor to apoB and apoE is inherited from the electrostatic attraction of VtgR and Vtg.

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