Cellular signaling mediated by the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR or ErbB) family of receptor tyrosine kinases plays an important role in regulating normal and oncogenic cellular physiology. While structures of isolated EGFR extracellular domains and intracellular protein tyrosine kinase domains have suggested mechanisms for growth factor-mediated receptor dimerization and allosteric kinase domain activation, understanding how the transmembrane and juxtamembrane domains contribute to transmembrane signaling requires structural studies on intact receptor molecules. In this report, recombinant EGFR constructs containing the extracellular, transmembrane, juxtamembrane, and kinase domains are overexpressed and purified from human embryonic kidney 293 cell cultures. The oligomerization state, overall structure, and functional stability of the purified EGF-bound receptor are characterized in detergent micelles and phospholipid bilayers. In the presence of EGF, catalytically active EGFR dimers can be isolated by gel filtration in dodecyl maltoside. Visualization of the dimeric species by negative stain electron microscopy and single particle averaging reveals an overall structure of the extracellular domain that is similar to previously published crystal structures and is consistent with the C-termini of domain IV being juxtaposed against one another as they enter the transmembrane domain. Although detergent-soluble preparations of EGFR are stable as dimers in the presence of EGF, they exhibit differential functional stability in Triton X-100 versus dodecyl maltoside. Furthermore, the kinase activity can be significantly stabilized by reconstituting purified EGF-bound EGFR dimers in phospholipid nanodiscs or vesicles, suggesting that the environment around the hydrophobic transmembrane and amphipathic juxtamembrane domains is important for stabilizing the tyrosine kinase activity in vitro.
Precise spatial and temporal regulation of cell adhesion and de-adhesion is critical for dynamic lymphocyte migration. Although a great deal of information has been learned about integrin lymphocyte function-associated antigen (LFA)-1 adhesion, the mechanism that regulates efficient LFA-1 de-adhesion from intercellular adhesion molecule (ICAM)-1 during T lymphocyte migration is unknown. Here, we show that nonmuscle myosin heavy chain IIA (MyH9) is recruited to LFA-1 at the uropod of migrating T lymphocytes, and inhibition of the association of MyH9 with LFA-1 results in extreme uropod elongation, defective tail detachment, and decreased lymphocyte migration on ICAM-1, without affecting LFA-1 activation by chemokine CXCL-12. This defect was reversed by a small molecule antagonist that inhibits both LFA-1 affinity and avidity regulation, but not by an antagonist that inhibits only affinity regulation. Total internal reflection fluorescence microscopy of the contact zone between migrating T lymphocytes and ICAM-1 substrate revealed that inactive LFA-1 is selectively localized to the posterior of polarized T lymphocytes, whereas active LFA-1 is localized to their anterior. Thus, during T lymphocyte migration, uropodal adhesion depends on LFA-1 avidity, where MyH9 serves as a key mechanical link between LFA-1 and the cytoskeleton that is critical for LFA-1 de-adhesion.
Hemostasis and thrombosis (blood clotting) involve fibrinogen binding to integrin alpha(IIb)beta(3) on platelets, resulting in platelet aggregation. alpha(v)beta(3) binds fibrinogen via an Arg-Asp-Gly (RGD) motif in fibrinogen's alpha subunit. alpha(IIb)beta(3) also binds to fibrinogen; however, it does so via an unstructured RGD-lacking C-terminal region of the gamma subunit (gammaC peptide). These distinct modes of fibrinogen binding enable alpha(IIb)beta(3) and alpha(v)beta(3) to function cooperatively in hemostasis. In this study, crystal structures reveal the integrin alpha(IIb)beta(3)-gammaC peptide interface, and, for comparison, integrin alpha(IIb)beta(3) bound to a lamprey gammaC primordial RGD motif. Compared with RGD, the GAKQAGDV motif in gammaC adopts a different backbone configuration and binds over a more extended region. The integrin metal ion-dependent adhesion site (MIDAS) Mg(2+) ion binds the gammaC Asp side chain. The adjacent to MIDAS (ADMIDAS) Ca(2+) ion binds the gammaC C terminus, revealing a contribution for ADMIDAS in ligand binding. Structural data from this natively disordered gammaC peptide enhances our understanding of the involvement of gammaC peptide and integrin alpha(IIb)beta(3) in hemostasis and thrombosis.
The complete ectodomain of integrin alpha(IIb)beta(3) reveals a bent, closed, low-affinity conformation, the beta knee, and a mechanism for linking cytoskeleton attachment to high affinity for ligand. Ca and Mg ions in the recognition site, including the synergistic metal ion binding site (SyMBS), are loaded prior to ligand binding. Electrophilicity of the ligand-binding Mg ion is increased in the open conformation. The beta(3) knee passes between the beta(3)-PSI and alpha(IIb)-knob to bury the lower beta leg in a cleft, from which it is released for extension. Different integrin molecules in crystals and EM reveal breathing that appears on pathway to extension. Tensile force applied to the extended ligand-receptor complex stabilizes the closed, low-affinity conformation. By contrast, an additional lateral force applied to the beta subunit to mimic attachment to moving actin filaments stabilizes the open, high-affinity conformation. This mechanism propagates allostery over long distances and couples cytoskeleton attachment of integrins to their high-affinity state.
Integrins are cell surface receptors that transduce signals bidirectionally across the plasma membrane. The key event of integrin signaling is the allosteric regulation between its ligand-binding site and the C-terminal helix (alpha7) of integrin's inserted (I) domain. A significant axial movement of the alpha7 helix is associated with the open, active conformation of integrins. We describe the crystal structure of an engineered high-affinity I domain from the integrin alpha(L)beta(2) (LFA-1) alpha subunit in complex with the N-terminal two domains of ICAM-5, an adhesion molecule expressed in telencephalic neurons. The finding that the alpha7 helix swings out and inserts into a neighboring I domain in an upside-down orientation in the crystals implies an intrinsically unusual mobility of this helix. This remarkable feature allows the alpha7 helix to trigger integrin's large-scale conformational changes with little energy penalty. It serves as a mechanistic example of how a weakly bound adhesion molecule works in signaling.
Trans-cellular migration, the movement of one cell directly through another, seems an unlikely, counterintuitive, and even bizarre process. Trans-cellular migration has been reported for nearly half a century in leukocyte transendothelial migration in vivo, but is not well enough accepted to widely feature in textbook accounts of diapedesis. Recently, the first in vitro and additional in vivo observations of trans-cellular diapedesis have been reported. Mechanisms by which this occurs are just beginning to be elucidated and point to podosome-like protrusive activities in leukocytes and specific fusogenic functions in endothelial cells. Emerging evidence for a quantitatively significant contribution of trans-cellular migration to leukocyte trafficking in increasingly diverse settings suggests that this phenomenon represents an important and physiologic cell biological process.