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J Biol Chem. 2005 Aug 26;280(34):30392-9. Epub 2005 Jun 30.

Ligand-induced dimer-tetramer transition during the activation of the cell surface epidermal growth factor receptor-A multidimensional microscopy analysis.

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1
Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, Melbourne Tumour Biology Branch, Royal Melbourne Hospital, Victoria 3050, Australia. andrew.clayton@ludwig.edu.au

Abstract

The epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) is a member of the erbB tyrosine kinase family of receptors. For many years it has been believed that receptor activation occurs via a monomer-dimer transition that is associated with a conformational change to activate the kinase. However, little is known about the quaternary state of the receptor at normal levels of expression (<10(5) receptors/cell). We employed multidimensional microscopy techniques to gain insight into the state of association of the human EGFR, in the absence and presence of ligand, on the surface of intact BaF/3 cells (50,000 receptors/cell). Image correlation microscopy of an EGFR-enhanced green fluorescent protein chimera was used to establish an average degree of aggregation on the submicron scale of 2.2 receptors/cluster in the absence of ligand increasing to 3.7 receptors/cluster in the presence of ligand. Energy transfer measurements between mixtures of fluorescein isothiocyanate-EGF and Alexa 555-EGF were performed using fluorescence lifetime imaging microscopy as a function of the donor: acceptor labeling ratio to gain insight into the spatial disposition of EGFR ligand binding sites on the nanometer scale. In the context of a two-state Förster resonance energy transfer (FRET)/non-FRET model, the data are consistent with a minimum transfer efficiency of 75% in the FRET population. The microscopy data are related to biophysical data on the EGFR in the A431 cell line and the three-dimensional structure of the ligated EGFR extracellular domain. In the context of a monomer-dimer-oligomer model, the biophysical data are consistent with a significant fraction of ligated EGFR tetramers comprising two dimers juxtaposed in a side-by-side (or slightly staggered) arrangement. Our data are consistent with a specific higher order association of the ligand-bound EGFR on the nanometer scale and indicate the existence of distinct signaling entities beyond the level of the EGFR dimer which could play an important role in receptor transactivation.

PMID:
15994331
DOI:
10.1074/jbc.M504770200
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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