Extracellular domain mutations of the EGF receptor differentially modulate high-affinity and low-affinity responses to EGF receptor ligands

Jennifer L. Macdonald-Obermann, Linda J. Pike

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The EGF receptor is mutated in a number of cancers. In most cases, the mutations occur in the intracellular tyrosine kinase domain. However, in glioblastomas, many of the mutations are in the extracellular ligand binding domain. To determine what changes in receptor function are induced by such extracellular domain mutations, we analyzed the binding and biological response to the seven different EGF receptor ligands in three common glioblastoma mutants—R84K, A265V, and G574V. Our data indicate that all three mutations significantly increase the binding affinity of all seven ligands. In addition, the mutations increase the potency of all ligands for stimulating receptor autophosphorylation, phospholipase Cγ, Akt, and MAP kinase activity. In all mutants, the rank order of ligand potency seen at the wild-type receptor was retained, suggesting that the receptors still discriminate among the different ligands. However, the low-affinity ligands, EPR and EPG, did show larger than average enhancements of potency for stimulating Akt and MAPK but not receptor autophosphorylation and phospholipase Cγ activation. Relative to the wild-type receptor, these changes lead to an increase in the responsiveness of these mutants to physiological concentrations of ligands and an alteration in the ratio of activation of the different pathways. This may contribute to their oncogenic potential. In the context of recent findings, our data also suggest that so-called “high”-affinity biological responses arise from activation by isolated receptor dimers, whereas “low”-affinity biological responses require clustering of receptors which occurs at higher concentrations of ligand.

Original languageEnglish
Article number105763
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2024


  • Akt PKB
  • EGF receptor
  • autophosphorylation
  • mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK)
  • mutant
  • phospholipase C
  • receptor tyrosine kinase
  • signal transduction


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