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Prog Biophys Mol Biol. 1999;71(3-4):343-58.

Structural analysis of receptor tyrosine kinases.

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Skirball Institute of Biomolecular Medicine, New York University Medical Center, New York 10016, USA.


Receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs) are single-pass transmembrane receptors that possess intrinsic cytoplasmic enzymatic activity, catalyzing the transfer of the gamma-phosphate of ATP to tyrosine residues in protein substrates. RTKs are essential components of signal transduction pathways that affect cell proliferation, differentiation, migration and metabolism. Included in this large protein family are the insulin receptor and the receptors for growth factors such as epidermal growth factor, fibroblast growth factor and vascular endothelial growth factor. Receptor activation occurs through ligand binding, which facilitates receptor dimerization and autophosphorylation of specific tyrosine residues in the cytoplasmic portion. The phosphotyrosine residues either enhance receptor catalytic activity or provide docking sites for downstream signaling proteins. Over the past several years, structural studies employing X-ray crystallography have advanced our understanding of the molecular mechanisms by which RTKs recognize their ligands and are activated by dimerization and tyrosine autophosphorylation. This review will highlight the key results that have emerged from these structural studies.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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