Unliganded Fibroblast Growth Factor Receptor 1 Forms Density-Independent Dimers [Molecular Bases of Disease]

August 13th, 2015 by Comps-Agrar, L., Dunshee, D. R., Eaton, D. L., Sonoda, J.

Fibroblast growth factors receptors (FGFRs) are thought to initiate intracellular signaling cascades upon ligand-induced dimerization of the extracellular domain. Although the existence of unliganded FGFR1 dimers on the surface of living cells has been proposed, this notion remains rather controversial. Here, we employed time-resolved Forster resonance energy transfer (TR-FRET) combined with SNAP- and ACP-tag labeling in COS7 cells to monitor dimerization of full length FGFR1 at the cell-surface with or without the coreceptor ╬▓Klotho (hKLB). Using this approach, we observed homodimerization of unliganded FGFR1 that is independent of its surface density. The homo-interaction signal observed for FGFR1 was indeed as robust as that obtained for epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), and was further increased by addition of activating ligands or pathogenic mutations. Mutational analysis indicated that the kinase and the transmembrane domains, rather than the extracellular domain, mediate the ligand-independent FGFR1 dimerization. In addition, we observed a formation of a higher order ligand-independent complex by the c-spliced isoform of FGFR1 and KLB. Collectively, our approach provides novel insights into the assembly and dynamics of the full-length FGFRs on the cell surface.