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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2012 Aug 28;109(35):13984-9. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1200464109. Epub 2012 Aug 13.

Dynamically varying interactions between heregulin and ErbB proteins detected by single-molecule analysis in living cells.

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Cellular Informatics Laboratory, RIKEN Advanced Science Institute, 2-1 Hirosawa, Wako 351-0198, Japan.


Heregulin (HRG) belongs to the family of EGFs and activates the receptor proteins ErbB3 and ErbB4 in a variety of cell types to regulate cell fate. The interactions between HRG and ErbB3/B4 are important to the pathological mechanisms underlying schizophrenia and some cancers. Here, we observed the reaction kinetics between fluorescently labeled single HRG molecules and ErbB3/B4 on the surfaces of MCF-7 human breast cancer cells. The equilibrium association and the dissociation from equilibrium were also measured using single-molecule imaging techniques. The unitary association processes mirrored the EGF and ErbB1 interactions in HeLa cells [Teramura Y, et al. (2006) EMBO J 25:4215-4222], suggesting that the predimerization of the receptors, followed by intermediate formation (between the first and second ligand-binding events to a receptor dimer), accelerated the formation of doubly liganded signaling dimers of the receptor molecules. However, the dissociation analysis suggested that the first HRG dissociation from the doubly liganded dimer was rapid, but the second dissociation from the singly liganded dimer was slow. The dissociation rate constant from the liganded monomer was intermediate. The dynamic changes in the association and dissociation kinetics in relation to the dimerization of ErbB displayed negative cooperativity, which resulted in apparent low- and high-affinity sites of HRG association on the cell surface.

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