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Sci. STKE, 26 November 2002
Vol. 2002, Issue 160, p. re15
[DOI: 10.1126/stke.2002.160.re15]


Regulation of Growth Factor Receptors by Gangliosides

Erik A. Miljan1,2,4 and Eric G. Bremer1,2,3*

1The Brain Tumor Research Program, Children's Memorial Medical Center, Chicago, IL 60614, USA;
2Department of Neurosurgery; and
3Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center, Northwestern University, Chicago, IL 60614, USA.
4Present address: ReNeuron Ltd., 10 Nugent Road, Guildford, Surrey, UK.

Gloss: Growth factor receptors are important in controlling many cellular functions, such as growth, differentiation, and disease. Growth factor receptors activate numerous signal transduction pathways within cells; however, how one growth factor receptor orchestrates multiple signal transduction pathways is not clear. This review focuses on a ubiquitous component of the plasma membrane, called "gangliosides," and how they modulate growth factor receptors at the cell membrane. Gangliosides are complex structures that consist of two parts--a lipid ceramide moiety and a carbohydrate head structure. Studies over the past two decades have demonstrated that different gangliosides can enhance or inhibit growth factor receptor activity. However, ganglioside modulation of growth factor receptors is more complex than simply stimulation or inhibition. We present and discuss three models of how gangliosides regulate growth factor receptors: (i) modulation of ligand binding, (ii) regulation of receptor dimerization, and (iii) regulation of receptor activation state and subcellular distribution. On the basis of these models, we speculate about the physiological consequences of ganglioside regulation of growth factor receptors.

*Corresponding author. Telephone, 773-868-8082; fax, 773-868-8066; e-mail, egbremer{at}

Citation: E. A. Miljan, E. G. Bremer, Regulation of Growth Factor Receptors by Gangliosides. Sci. STKE 2002, re15 (2002).

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