Multivalent ligand-receptor binding interactions in the fibroblast growth factor system produce a cooperative growth factor and heparin mechanism for receptor dimerization

Biochemistry. 1994 Aug 30;33(34):10229-48. doi: 10.1021/bi00200a003.


The binding interactions for the three primary reactants of the fibroblast growth factor (FGF) system, basic FGF (bFGF), an FGF receptor, FGFR1, and the cofactor heparin/heparan sulfate (HS), were explored by isothermal titrating calorimetry, ultracentrifugation, and molecular modeling. The binding reactions were first dissected into three binary reactions: (1) FGFR1 + bFGF<==>FGFR1/bFGF, K1 = 41 (+/- 12) nM; (2) FGFR1 + HS<==>FGFR1/HS, K2 = 104 (+/- 17) microM; and (3) bFGF + HS<==>bFGF/HS, K3 = 470 (+/- 20) nM, where HS = low MW heparin, approximately 3 kDa. The first, binding of bFGF to FGFR1 in the absence of HS, was found to be a simple binary binding reaction that is enthalpy dominated and characterized by a single equilibrium constant, K1. The conditional reactions of bFGF and FGFR1 in the presence of heparin were then examined under conditions that saturate only the bFGF heparin site (1.5 equiv of HS/bFGF) or saturate the HS binding sites of both bFGF and FGFR1 (1.0 mM HS). Both 3-and 5-kDa low MW heparins increased the affinity for FGFR1 binding to bFGF by approximately 10-fold (Kd = 4.9 +/- 2.0 nM), relative to the reaction with no HS. In addition, HS, at a minimum of 1.5 equiv/bFGF, induced a second FGFR1 molecule to bind to another lower affinity secondary site on bFGF (K4 = 1.9 +/- 0.7 microM) in an entropy-dominated reaction to yield a quaternary complex containing two FGFR1, one bFGF, and at least one HS. Molecular weight estimates by analytical ultracentrifugation of such fully bound complexes were consistent with this proposed composition. To understand these binding reactions in terms of structural components of FGFR1, a three-dimensional model of FGFR1 was constructed using segment match modeling. Electrostatic potential calculations confirmed that an elongated cluster, approximately 15 x 35 A, of nine cationic residues focused positive potential (+2kBT) to the solvent-exposed beta-sheet A, B, E, C' surface of the D(II) domain model, strongly implicating this locus as the HS binding region of FGFR1. Structural models for HS binding to FGFR1, and HS binding to bFGF, were built individually and then assembled to juxtapose adjacent binding sites for receptor and HS on bFGF, against matching proposed growth factor and HS binding sites on FGFR1. The calorimetric binding results and the molecular modeling exercises suggest that bFGF and HS participate in a concerted bridge mechanism for the dimerization of FGFR1 in vitro and presumably for mitogenic signal transduction in vivo.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Base Sequence
  • Binding Sites
  • Chromatography, Affinity
  • Cloning, Molecular
  • DNA, Complementary / genetics
  • Fibroblast Growth Factor 2 / metabolism
  • Fibroblast Growth Factors / metabolism*
  • Glycosylation
  • Heparin / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Ligands
  • Models, Molecular
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Pentosan Sulfuric Polyester / metabolism
  • Protein Binding
  • Protein Conformation
  • Receptors, Fibroblast Growth Factor / chemistry
  • Receptors, Fibroblast Growth Factor / genetics
  • Receptors, Fibroblast Growth Factor / metabolism*
  • Thermodynamics


  • DNA, Complementary
  • Ligands
  • Receptors, Fibroblast Growth Factor
  • Fibroblast Growth Factor 2
  • Pentosan Sulfuric Polyester
  • Fibroblast Growth Factors
  • Heparin