Conserved roles for receptor tyrosine kinase extracellular regions in regulating receptor and pathway activity

Biochem J. 2020 Nov 13;477(21):4207-4220. doi: 10.1042/BCJ20200702.


Receptor Tyrosine Kinases (RTKs) comprise a diverse group of cell-surface receptors that mediate key signaling events during animal development and are frequently activated in cancer. We show here that deletion of the extracellular regions of 10 RTKs representing 7 RTK classes or their substitution with the dimeric immunoglobulin Fc region results in constitutive receptor phosphorylation but fails to result in phosphorylation of downstream signaling effectors Erk or Akt. Conversely, substitution of RTK extracellular regions with the extracellular region of the Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor (EGFR) results in increases in effector phosphorylation in response to EGF. These results indicate that the activation signal generated by the EGFR extracellular region is capable of activating at least seven different RTK classes. Failure of phosphorylated Fc-RTK chimeras or RTKs with deleted extracellular regions to stimulate phosphorylation of downstream effectors indicates that either dimerization and receptor phosphorylation per se are insufficient to activate signaling or constitutive dimerization leads to pathway inhibition.

Keywords: epidermal growth factor receptor; receptor tyrosine kinases; signaling.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • ErbB Receptors / genetics
  • ErbB Receptors / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Phosphorylation / genetics
  • Phosphorylation / physiology
  • Receptor Protein-Tyrosine Kinases / genetics
  • Receptor Protein-Tyrosine Kinases / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction / genetics
  • Signal Transduction / physiology


  • ErbB Receptors
  • Receptor Protein-Tyrosine Kinases