Allosteric regulation of epidermal growth factor (EGF) receptor ligand binding by tyrosine kinase inhibitors

Jennifer L. Macdonald-Obermann, Linda J. Pike

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


The epidermal growth factor (EGF) receptor is a classical receptor tyrosine kinase with an extracellular ligand-binding domain and an intracellular kinase domain. Mutations in the EGF receptor have been shown to drive uncontrolled cell growth and are associated with a number of different tumors. Two different types of ATP-competitive EGF receptor tyrosine kinase inhibitors have been identified that bind to either the active (type I) or inactive (type II) conformation of the kinase domain. Despite the fact that both types of inhibitors block tyrosine kinase activity, they exhibit differential efficacies in different tumor types. Here, we show that in addition to inhibiting kinase activity, these inhibitors allosterically modulate ligand binding. Our data suggest that the conformations of the EGF receptor extracellular domain and intracellular kinase domain are coupled and that these conformations exist in equilibrium. Allosteric regulators, such as the small-molecule tyrosine kinase inhibitors, as well as mutations in the EGF receptor itself, shift the conformational equilibrium among the active and inactive species, leading to changes in EGF receptor-binding affinity. Our studies also reveal unexpected positive cooperativity between EGF receptor subunits in dimers formed in the presence of type II inhibitors. These findings indicate that there is strong functional coupling between the intracellular and extracellular domains of this receptor. Such coupling may impact the therapeutic synergy between small-molecule tyrosine kinase inhibitors and monoclonal antibodies in vivo.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)13401-13414
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number35
StatePublished - Aug 31 2018


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