Neuregulins signal cells by binding to an activating hetero- and homodimeric forms of the neuregulin receptors HER2 (erbB2), HER3 (erbB3), and HER4 (erbB4). Axonally derived neuregulin signals myelin forming cells of the central and peripheral nervous systems through different receptor complexes: oligodendrocytes through erbB2/erbB4 heterodimers and Schwann cells through erbB2/erbB3 heterodimers. Since the leading edge of myelinating cells interacts directly with the axonal surface, we were interested in determining if signaling molecules localized at the leading edge associate with activated neuregulin receptors. We found a novel association between neuregulin receptors and focal adhesion kinase (FAK) in primary cultures of Schwann cells. Following stimulation with ligand, maximal binding of FAK to HER2 occurred by 1 min whereas maximal binding to HER3 was delayed to approximately 7 min. FAK is localized in focal adhesions of Schwann cells. We have previously shown HER2 and HER3 are distributed evenly throughout the plasmalemma. Neuregulins thus use FAK to transmit intracellular signals and the differential kinetics of FAK association with individual neuregulin receptors, as well as its restricted subcellular localization, may play a role in specifying biologic responses.
Copyright 2000 Academic Press.