The structural biology of growth factor receptor activation
ABSTRACT Stimulation of cells by growth factors triggers cascades of signalling that result in cellular responses such as growth, differentiation, migration and survival. Many growth factors signal through receptor tyrosine kinases, leading to dimerization, trans-phosphorylation and activation of tyrosine kinases that phosphorylate components further downstream of the signal transduction cascade. Using insulin-like growth factor, nerve growth factor, hepatocyte growth factor and fibroblast growth factor as examples, we show that the globular architecture of the growth factors is essential for receptor binding. We describe how nerve growth factor (NGF) is a symmetrical dimer that binds four storage proteins (two alpha-NGF and two gamma-NGF) to give a symmetrical hetero-hexameric 7SNGF organised around the beta-NGF dimer. It binds the extracellular domains of two receptor molecules in a similar way, so dimerising the receptor. Hepatocyte growth factor/scatter factor (HGF/SF) probably binds its receptor as a dimer stabilised by interactions with heparan sulfate, and fibroblast growth factor (FGF) binds its receptor as a dimer cross-linked by heparan sulfate. Surprisingly, insulin and insulin-like growth factor (IGF) bind in the monomeric form to receptors that are already covalent dimers. We propose that, in general, weak binary interactions between growth factor and individual domains of receptors are enhanced by cooperative interactions with further receptor domains, and sometimes other components like heparan, to give rise to specific multi-protein/domain complexes.
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ABSTRACT: Control of structural flexibility is essential for the proper functioning of a large number of proteins and multiprotein complexes. At the residue level, such flexibility occurs due to local relaxation of peptide bond angles whose cumulative effect may result in large changes in the secondary, tertiary or quaternary structures of protein molecules. Such flexibility, and its absence, most often depends on the nature of interdomain linkages formed by oligopeptides. Both flexible and relatively rigid peptide linkers are found in many multidomain proteins. Linkers are thought to control favorable and unfavorable interactions between adjacent domains by means of variable softness furnished by their primary sequence. Large-scale structural heterogeneity of multidomain proteins and their complexes, facilitated by soft peptide linkers, is now seen as the norm rather than the exception. Biophysical discoveries as well as computational algorithms and databases have reshaped our understanding of the often spectacular biomolecular dynamics enabled by soft linkers. Absence of such motion, as in so-called molecular rulers, also has desirable functional effects in protein architecture. We review here the historic discovery and current understanding of the nature of domains and their linkers from a structural, computational, and biophysical point of view. A number of emerging applications, based on the current understanding of the structural properties of peptides, are presented in the context of domain fusion of synthetic multifunctional chimeric proteins.Biopolymers 01/2005; 80(6):736-46. DOI:10.1002/bip.20291 · 2.29 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Programmable DNA-binding polyamides coupled to short peptides have led to the creation of synthetic artificial transcription factors. A hairpin polyamide-YPWM tetrapeptide conjugate facilitates the binding of a natural transcription factor Exd to an adjacent DNA site. Such small molecules function as protein-DNA dimerizers that stabilize complexes at composite DNA binding sites. Here we investigate the role of the linker that connects the polyamide to the peptide. We find that a substantial degree of variability in the linker length is tolerated at lower temperatures. At physiological temperatures, the longest linker tested confers a "switch"-like property on the protein-DNA dimerizer, in that it abolishes the ability of the YPWM moiety to recruit the natural transcription factor to DNA. These observations provide design principles for future artificial transcription factors that can be externally regulated and can function in concert with the cellular regulatory circuitry.Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 05/2005; 102(14):5008-13. DOI:10.1073/pnas.0501289102 · 9.81 Impact Factor