Receptors: Different Dimers, Different Signals

Science's STKE  12 Oct 1999:
Vol. 1999, Issue 3, pp. tw1
DOI: 10.1126/stke.1999.3.tw1

The four members of the ErbB family of receptors are activated by members of the epidermal growth factor family. The family comprises at least 16 distinct ligands. The various ligands can induce homodimerization or heterodimerization of the receptors and could thus produce different signals, depending on the combination of ligand and receptor. Muthuswamy et al. examined this possibility by creating chimeric versions of ErbB1 and ErbB2 that could be specifically activated as homodimers or heterodimers by synthetic ligands. They find that biological effects and signals produced by homodimers of ErbB1 or ErbB2 are distinct and that signaling by homodimers and heterodimers differs as well. Further studies with this approach may allow better understanding of fine tuning of signaling through ErbB family members.

Muthuswamy, S.K., Gilman, M., and Brugge, J.S. (1999) Controlled dimerization of ErbB receptors provides evidence for differential signaling by homo- and heterodimers. Mol. Cell. Biol. 19: 6845-6857. [Abstract]