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J Biol Chem. 2009 Mar 20;284(12):7843-52. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M809215200. Epub 2009 Jan 15.

Different domains regulate homomeric and heteromeric complex formation among type I and type II transforming growth factor-beta receptors.

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Department of Neurobiology, George S. Wise Faculty of Life Sciences, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv 69978, Israel.


Transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-beta) binds to and signals via two serine-threonine kinase receptors, type I (TbetaRI) and type II (TbetaRII). The oligomerization of TGF-beta receptors modulates ligand binding and receptor trafficking and may contribute to signal diversification. However, numerous features of the molecular domains that determine the homo- and hetero-oligomerization of full-length receptors at the cell surface and the mode of these interactions remain unclear. Here, we address these questions through computerized immunofluorescence co-patching and patch/fluorescence recovery after photobleaching measurements of different combinations of epitope-tagged receptors and their mutants in live cells. We show that TbetaRI and TbetaRII are present on the plasma membrane both as monomers and homo- and hetero-oligomers. The homodimerization of TbetaRII depends on a cytoplasmic juxtamembrane region (amino acid residues 200-220). In contrast, the cytoplasmic domain of TbetaRI is dispensable for its homodimerization. TbetaRI.TbetaRII hetero-oligomerization depends on the cytoplasmic domain of TbetaRI and on a C-terminal region of TbetaRII (residues 419-565). TGF-beta1 elevates TbetaRII homodimerization to some degree and strongly enhances TbetaRI.TbetaRII heteromeric complex formation. Both ligand-induced effects depend on the region encompassed between residues 200-242 of TbetaRII. Furthermore, the kinase activity of TbetaRI is also necessary for the latter effect. All forms of the homo- and hetero-oligomers, whether constitutively present on the membrane or formed upon TGF-beta1 stimulation, were stable in the time-scale of our patch/FRAP measurements. We suggest that the different forms of receptor oligomerization may serve as a basis for the heterogeneity of TGF-beta signaling responses.

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