A network model of early events in epidermal growth factor receptor signaling that accounts for combinatorial complexity

Biosystems. 2006 Feb-Mar;83(2-3):136-51. doi: 10.1016/j.biosystems.2005.06.014. Epub 2005 Oct 17.


We consider a model of early events in signaling by the epidermal growth factor (EGF) receptor (EGFR). The model includes EGF, EGFR, the adapter proteins Grb2 and Shc, and the guanine nucleotide exchange factor Sos, which is activated through EGF-induced formation of EGFR-Grb2-Sos and EGFR-Shc-Grb2-Sos assemblies at the plasma membrane. The protein interactions involved in signaling can potentially generate a diversity of protein complexes and phosphoforms; however, this diversity has been largely ignored in models of EGFR signaling. Here, we develop a model that accounts more fully for potential molecular diversity by specifying rules for protein interactions and then using these rules to generate a reaction network that includes all chemical species and reactions implied by the protein interactions. We obtain a model that predicts the dynamics of 356 molecular species, which are connected through 3749 unidirectional reactions. This network model is compared with a previously developed model that includes only 18 chemical species but incorporates the same scope of protein interactions. The predictions of this model are reproduced by the network model, which also yields new predictions. For example, the network model predicts distinct temporal patterns of autophosphorylation for different tyrosine residues of EGFR. A comparison of the two models suggests experiments that could lead to mechanistic insights about competition among adapter proteins for EGFR binding sites and the role of EGFR monomers in signal transduction.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Combinatorial Chemistry Techniques
  • Computer Simulation
  • Epidermal Growth Factor / metabolism*
  • ErbB Receptors / metabolism*
  • Gene Expression Regulation / physiology
  • Hepatocytes / metabolism*
  • Liver / metabolism*
  • Models, Biological*
  • Multienzyme Complexes / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Signal Transduction / physiology*


  • Multienzyme Complexes
  • Epidermal Growth Factor
  • ErbB Receptors