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Anal Biochem. 2004 Jan 15;324(2):227-36.

Preparation and characterization of Alexa Fluor 594-labeled epidermal growth factor for fluorescence resonance energy transfer studies: application to the epidermal growth factor receptor.

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Department of Biological Sciences, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN 37235, USA.


We have prepared and characterized a new fluorescent derivative of murine epidermal growth factor (EGF), Alexa Fluor 594-labeled EGF (A-EGF), for fluorescence studies of EGF-EGF receptor interactions. We describe the synthesis of this derivative and its physical and biological characterization. The significant overlap between the excitation and the emission spectra of A-EGF makes this probe well suited to fluorescence resonance energy homo-transfer. Using time-resolved fluorescence to examine the oligomeric state of the EGF receptor, we have observed resonance energy homo-transfer of A-EGF bound to EGF receptors in cells, but not of A-EGF bound to EGF receptors in membrane vesicles. Our results, interpreted in the context of recent crystallographic studies of the ligand-binding domains of EGF receptors, suggest that observed fluorescence resonance energy transfer does not result from transfer within receptor dimers, but rather results from transfer within higher-order oligomers. Furthermore, our results support a structural model for oligomerization of EGF receptors in which dimers are positioned head-to-head with respect to the ligand-binding site, consistent with the head-to-head interactions observed between adjacent receptor dimers by X-ray crystallography.

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