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Mol Cell Biol. 1996 Aug;16(8):4081-7.

Profound ligand-independent kinase activation of fibroblast growth factor receptor 3 by the activation loop mutation responsible for a lethal skeletal dysplasia, thanatophoric dysplasia type II.

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Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Center for Molecular Genetics, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla 92093-0367, USA.


Thanatophoric dysplasia type II (TDII) is a neonatal lethal skeletal dysplasia caused by a recurrent Lys-650-->Glu mutation within the highly conserved activation loop of the kinase domain of fibroblast growth factor receptor 3 (FGFR3). We demonstrate here that this mutation results in profound constitutive activation of the FGFR3 tyrosine kinase, approximately 100-fold above that of wild-type FGFR3. The mechanism of FGFR3 activation in TDII was probed by constructing various point mutations in the activation loop. Substitutions at position 650 indicated that not only Glu but also Asp and, to a lesser extent, Gln and Leu result in pronounced constitutive activation of FGFR3. Additional mutagenesis within the beta10-beta11 loop region (amino acids Tyr-647 to Leu-656) demonstrated that amino acid 650 is the only residue which can activate the receptor when changed to a Glu, indicating a specificity of position as well as charge for mutations which can give rise to kinase activation. Furthermore, when predicted sites of autophosphorylation at Tyr-647 and Tyr-648 were mutated to Phe, either singly or in combination, constitutive kinase activity was still observed in response to the Lys-650-->Glu mutation, although the effect of these mutations on downstream signalling was not investigated. Our data suggest that the molecular effect of the TDII activation loop mutation is to mimic the conformational changes that activate the tyrosine kinase domain, which are normally initiated by ligand binding and autophosphorylation. These results have broad implications for understanding the molecular basis of other human developmental syndromes that involve mutations in members of the FGFR family. Moreover, these findings are relevant to the study of kinase regulation and the design of activating mutations in related tyrosine kinases.

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