High-Throughput Selection of Transmembrane Sequences That Enhance Receptor Tyrosine Kinase Activation

Department of Materials Science and Engineering, The Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD 21218, USA.
Journal of Molecular Biology (Impact Factor: 4.33). 09/2011; 412(1):43-54. DOI: 10.1016/j.jmb.2011.07.004
Source: PubMed


Dimerization is a critical requirement for the activation of the intracellular kinase domains of receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs). The single transmembrane (TM) helices of RTKs contribute to dimerization, but the details are not well understood. Work with TM helices in various model systems has revealed a small number of specific dimerization sequence motifs, and it has been suggested that RTK dimerization is modulated by such motifs. Yet questions remain about the universality of these sequence motifs for RTK dimerization and about how TM domain dimerization in model systems relates to RTK activation in mammalian membranes. To investigate these questions, we designed a 3888-member combinatorial peptide library based on the TM domain of Neu (ErbB2) as a model RTK. The library contains many closely related, Neu-like sequences, including thousands of sequences with known dimerization motifs. We used an SDS-PAGE-based screen to select peptides that dimerize better than the native Neu sequence, and we assayed the activation of chimeric Neu receptors in mammalian cells with TM sequences selected in the screen. Despite the very high abundance of known dimerization motifs in the library, only a very few dimerizing sequences were identified by SDS-PAGE. About half of those sequences activated the Neu kinase significantly more than did the wild-type TM sequence. This work furthers our knowledge about the requirements for membrane protein interactions and the requirements for RTK activation in cells.

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Available from: Andrew R Hoffmann

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    ABSTRACT: Studies of the dimerization of transmembrane (TM) helices have been ongoing for many years now, and have provided clues to the fundamental principles behind membrane protein (MP) folding. Our understanding of TM helix dimerization has been dominated by the idea that sequence motifs, simple recognizable amino acid sequences that drive lateral interaction, can be used to explain and predict the lateral interactions between TM helices in membrane proteins. But as more and more unique interacting helices are characterized, it is becoming clear that the sequence motif paradigm is incomplete. Experimental evidence suggests that the search for sequence motifs, as mediators of TM helix dimerization, cannot solve the membrane protein folding problem alone. Here we review the current understanding in the field, as it has evolved from the paradigm of sequence motifs into a view in which the interactions between TM helices are much more complex. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled: Membrane protein structure and function.
    Preview · Article · Sep 2011 · Biochimica et Biophysica Acta
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    ABSTRACT: Protein-protein interactions within the membrane are involved in many vital cellular processes. Consequently, deficient oligomerization is associated with known diseases. The interactions can be partially or fully mediated by transmembrane domains (TMD). However, in contrast to soluble regions, our knowledge of the factors that control oligomerization and recognition between the membrane-embedded domains is very limited. Due to the unique chemical and physical properties of the membrane environment, rules that apply to interactions between soluble segments are not necessarily valid within the membrane. This review summarizes our knowledge on the sequences mediating TMD-TMD interactions which include conserved motifs such as the GxxxG, QxxS, glycine and leucine zippers, and others. The review discusses the specific role of polar, charged and aromatic amino acids in the interface of the interacting TMD helices. Strategies to determine the strength, dynamics and specificities of these interactions by experimental (ToxR, TOXCAT, GALLEX and FRET) or various computational approaches (molecular dynamic simulation and bioinformatics) are summarized. Importantly, the contribution of the membrane environment to the TMD-TMD interaction is also presented. Studies utilizing exogenously added TMD peptides have been shown to influence in vivo the dimerization of intact membrane proteins involved in various diseases. The chirality independent TMD-TMD interactions allows for the design of novel short d- and l-amino acids containing TMD peptides with advanced properties. Overall these studies shed light on the role of specific amino acids in mediating the assembly of the TMDs within the membrane environment and their contribution to protein function. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled: Protein Folding in Membranes.
    Full-text · Article · Dec 2011 · Biochimica et Biophysica Acta
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