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Signaling pathways with Receptor Tyrosine Kinase clarification

Signaling pathways with Receptor Tyrosine Kinase clarification


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This question is regarding signaling pathways with RTKs, Receptor Tyrosine Kinase. The picture posted has one thing wrong with it and I am supposed to figure out what that is.

What I have come up with so far is that the Ras protein shown that goes on to activate RAF, has GDP attached to it. This cannot be true from what I understand, as Ras must have GTP bound to it in order for Ras to stay in it's closed conformation. The closed conformation is what activates the rest of the signals.

I am wondering if I am correct in my assumption, or if there is something else in the diagram I am missing.


The active form of Ras should definitely be bound to GTP, to activate Raf. I don't see anything else wrong with the diagram. For reference, here is another useful diagram the pathway from Nature.


Signaling pathways with Receptor Tyrosine Kinase clarification - Biology

After the ligand binds to the cell-surface receptor, the activation of the receptor’s intracellular components sets off a chain of events that is called a signaling pathway or a signaling cascade. This process is sometimes called signal transduction. In a signaling pathway, second messengers, enzymes, and activated proteins interact with specific proteins, which are in turn activated in a chain reaction that eventually leads to a change in the cell’s environment (Figure 1). The events in the cascade occur in a series, much like a current flows in a river. Interactions that occur before a certain point are defined as upstream events, and events after that point are called downstream events.

Practice Question

Figure 1. The epidermal growth factor (EGF) receptor (EGFR) is a receptor tyrosine kinase involved in the regulation of cell growth, wound healing, and tissue repair. When EGF binds to the EGFR, a cascade of downstream events causes the cell to grow and divide. If EGFR is activated at inappropriate times, uncontrolled cell growth (cancer) may occur.

In certain cancers, the GTPase activity of the RAS G-protein is inhibited. This means that the RAS protein can no longer hydrolyze GTP into GDP. What effect would this have on downstream cellular events?

Signaling pathways can get very complicated very quickly because most cellular proteins can affect different downstream events, depending on the conditions within the cell. A single pathway can branch off toward different endpoints based on the interplay between two or more signaling pathways, and the same ligands are often used to initiate different signals in different cell types. This variation in response is due to differences in protein expression in different cell types. Another complicating element is signal integration of the pathways, in which signals from two or more different cell-surface receptors merge to activate the same response in the cell. This process can ensure that multiple external requirements are met before a cell commits to a specific response.

The effects of extracellular signals can also be amplified by enzymatic cascades. At the initiation of the signal, a single ligand binds to a single receptor. However, activation of a receptor-linked enzyme can activate many copies of a component of the signaling cascade, which amplifies the signal.


Cell-Surface Receptors

Cell-surface receptors, also known as transmembrane receptors, are cell surface, membrane-anchored (integral) proteins that bind to external ligand molecules. This type of receptor spans the plasma membrane and performs signal transduction, in which an extracellular signal is converted into an intercellular signal. Ligands that interact with cell-surface receptors do not have to enter the cell that they affect. Cell-surface receptors are also called cell-specific proteins or markers because they are specific to individual cell types.

Each cell-surface receptor has three main components: an external ligand-binding domain, a hydrophobic membrane-spanning region, and an intracellular domain inside the cell. The ligand-binding domain is also called the extracellular domain. The size and extent of each of these domains vary widely, depending on the type of receptor.

Because cell-surface receptor proteins are fundamental to normal cell functioning, it should come as no surprise that a malfunction in any one of these proteins could have severe consequences. Errors in the protein structures of certain receptor molecules have been shown to play a role in hypertension (high blood pressure), asthma, heart disease, and cancer.

How Viruses Recognize a Host

Unlike living cells, many viruses do not have a plasma membrane or any of the structures necessary to sustain life. Some viruses are simply composed of an inert protein shell containing DNA or RNA. To reproduce, viruses must invade a living cell, which serves as a host, and then take over the host’s cellular apparatus. But how does a virus recognize its host?

Viruses often bind to cell-surface receptors on the host cell. For example, the virus that causes human influenza (flu) binds specifically to receptors on membranes of cells of the respiratory system. Chemical differences in the cell-surface receptors among hosts mean that a virus that infects a specific species (for example, humans) cannot infect another species (for example, chickens).

However, viruses have very small amounts of DNA or RNA compared to humans, and, as a result, viral reproduction can occur rapidly. Viral reproduction invariably produces errors that can lead to changes in newly produced viruses these changes mean that the viral proteins that interact with cell-surface receptors may evolve in such a way that they can bind to receptors in a new host. Such changes happen randomly and quite often in the reproductive cycle of a virus, but the changes only matter if a virus with new binding properties comes into contact with a suitable host. In the case of influenza, this situation can occur in settings where animals and people are in close contact, such as poultry and swine farms. Once a virus jumps to a new host, it can spread quickly. Scientists watch newly appearing viruses (called emerging viruses) closely in the hope that such monitoring can reduce the likelihood of global viral epidemics.

Cell-surface receptors are involved in most of the signaling in multicellular organisms. There are three general categories of cell-surface receptors: ion channel-linked receptors, G-protein-linked receptors, and enzyme-linked receptors.

Figure 2. Gated ion channels form a pore through the plasma membrane that opens when the signaling molecule binds. The open pore then allows ions to flow into or out of the cell.

Ion channel-linked receptors bind a ligand and open a channel through the membrane that allows specific ions to pass through. To form a channel, this type of cell-surface receptor has an extensive membrane-spanning region. In order to interact with the phospholipid fatty acid tails that form the center of the plasma membrane, many of the amino acids in the membrane-spanning region are hydrophobic in nature. Conversely, the amino acids that line the inside of the channel are hydrophilic to allow for the passage of water or ions. When a ligand binds to the extracellular region of the channel, there is a conformational change in the proteins structure that allows ions such as sodium, calcium, magnesium, and hydrogen to pass through (Figure 2).

G-protein-linked receptors bind a ligand and activate a membrane protein called a G-protein. The activated G-protein then interacts with either an ion channel or an enzyme in the membrane (Figure 3). All G-protein-linked receptors have seven transmembrane domains, but each receptor has its own specific extracellular domain and G-protein-binding site.

Cell signaling using G-protein-linked receptors occurs as a cyclic series of events. Before the ligand binds, the inactive G-protein can bind to a newly revealed site on the receptor specific for its binding. Once the G-protein binds to the receptor, the resultant shape change activates the G-protein, which releases GDP and picks up GTP. The subunits of the G-protein then split into the α subunit and the βγ subunit. One or both of these G-protein fragments may be able to activate other proteins as a result. After awhile, the GTP on the active α subunit of the G-protein is hydrolyzed to GDP and the βγ subunit is deactivated. The subunits reassociate to form the inactive G-protein and the cycle begins anew.

Figure 3. Heterotrimeric G proteins have three subunits: α, β, and γ. When a signaling molecule binds to a G-protein-coupled receptor in the plasma membrane, a GDP molecule associated with the α subunit is exchanged for GTP. The β and γ subunits dissociate from the α subunit, and a cellular response is triggered either by the α subunit or the dissociated βγ pair. Hydrolysis of GTP to GDP terminates the signal.

G-protein-linked receptors have been extensively studied and much has been learned about their roles in maintaining health. Bacteria that are pathogenic to humans can release poisons that interrupt specific G-protein-linked receptor function, leading to illnesses such as pertussis, botulism, and cholera.

Figure 4. Transmitted primarily through contaminated drinking water, cholera is a major cause of death in the developing world and in areas where natural disasters interrupt the availability of clean water. (credit: New York City Sanitary Commission)

In cholera (Figure 4), for example, the water-borne bacterium Vibrio cholerae produces a toxin, choleragen, that binds to cells lining the small intestine. The toxin then enters these intestinal cells, where it modifies a G-protein that controls the opening of a chloride channel and causes it to remain continuously active, resulting in large losses of fluids from the body and potentially fatal dehydration as a result.

Modern sanitation eliminates the threat of cholera outbreaks, such as the one that swept through New York City in 1866. This poster from that era shows how, at that time, the way that the disease was transmitted was not understood.

Enzyme-linked receptors are cell-surface receptors with intracellular domains that are associated with an enzyme. In some cases, the intracellular domain of the receptor itself is an enzyme. Other enzyme-linked receptors have a small intracellular domain that interacts directly with an enzyme. The enzyme-linked receptors normally have large extracellular and intracellular domains, but the membrane-spanning region consists of a single alpha-helical region of the peptide strand. When a ligand binds to the extracellular domain, a signal is transferred through the membrane, activating the enzyme. Activation of the enzyme sets off a chain of events within the cell that eventually leads to a response. One example of this type of enzyme-linked receptor is the tyrosine kinase receptor (Figure 5). A kinase is an enzyme that transfers phosphate groups from ATP to another protein. The tyrosine kinase receptor transfers phosphate groups to tyrosine molecules (tyrosine residues). First, signaling molecules bind to the extracellular domain of two nearby tyrosine kinase receptors. The two neighboring receptors then bond together, or dimerize. Phosphates are then added to tyrosine residues on the intracellular domain of the receptors (phosphorylation). The phosphorylated residues can then transmit the signal to the next messenger within the cytoplasm.

Practice Question

Figure 5. A receptor tyrosine kinase is an enzyme-linked receptor with a single transmembrane region, and extracellular and intracellular domains. Binding of a signaling molecule to the extracellular domain causes the receptor to dimerize. Tyrosine residues on the intracellular domain are then autophosphorylated, triggering a downstream cellular response. The signal is terminated by a phosphatase that removes the phosphates from the phosphotyrosine residues.

HER2 is a receptor tyrosine kinase. In 30 percent of human breast cancers, HER2 is permanently activated, resulting in unregulated cell division. Lapatinib, a drug used to treat breast cancer, inhibits HER2 receptor tyrosine kinase autophosphorylation (the process by which the receptor adds phosphates onto itself), thus reducing tumor growth by 50 percent. Besides autophosphorylation, which of the following steps would be inhibited by Lapatinib?


Diagnostic-Therapeutic Combinations

Lapatinib (Tykerb®)

Lapatinib is an orally available small molecule dual inhibitor of the EGFR and HER-2 tyrosine kinases ( Geyer et al., 2006 Medina and Goodin, 2008 ). Lapatinib was approved by the FDA in 2007 for use in combination with capecitabine for the treatment of HER-2-positive metastatic breast cancer that has progressed with standard treatment ( Burstein et al., 2008 ). Lapatinib has been used in combination both with cytotoxic agents and with trastuzumab. There is continued interest in the potential of lapatinib to treat HER-2-positive breast cancer that has spread to the brain, given that trastuzumab will not cross the blood–brain barrier. Similar to trastuzumab, lapatinib has shown significant efficacy in both the adjuvant and neo-adjuvant clinical treatment settings ( Moy and Goss, 2006 ).


Complexities in Cell Signaling

GPCR and RTK pathways, as well as other signaling pathways not discussed in this book, can undergo “cross-talk”, meaning their intracellular signaling pathways converge to elicit cellular responses (Figure 12-10). Thus, signaling pathways can get very complicated very quickly because most cellular proteins can affect different downstream events, depending on the conditions within the cell. A single pathway can branch off toward different endpoints based on the interplay between two or more signaling pathways, and the same ligands are often used to initiate different signals in different cell types. This variation in response is due to differences in protein expression in different cell types. Another complicating element is signal integration of the pathways, in which signals from two or more different cell-surface receptors merge to activate the same response in the cell. This process can ensure that multiple external requirements are met before a cell commits to a specific response.

Figure 12-10: Interconnecting signaling pathways . Often, multiple signaling pathways, such as GPCR and RTK pathways, converge in cell communication .


Extracellular Targeting of Cell Signaling in Cancer : Strategies Directed at MET and RON Receptor Tyrosine Kinase Pathways

Extracellular Targeting of Cell Signaling in Cancer highlights innovative therapeutic strategies to treat cancer metastasis and prevent tumor progression. Currently, there are no drugs available to treat or prevent metastatic cancer other than non-selective, toxic chemotherapy. With contributions from an international panel of experts in the field, the book integrates diverse aspects of biochemistry, molecular biology, protein engineering, proteomics, cell biology, pharmacology, biophysics, structural biology, medicinal chemistry and drug development.

A large class of proteins called kinases are enzymes required by cancer cells to grow, proliferate, and survive apoptosis (death) by the immune system. Two important kinases are MET and RON which are receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs) that initiate cell signaling pathways outside the cell surface in response to extracellular ligands (growth factors.) Both kinases are oncogenes which are required by cancer cells to migrate away from the primary tumor, invade surrounding tissue and metastasize. MET and RON reside on both cancer cells and the support cells surrounding the tumor, called the microenvironment. MET and RON are activated by their particular ligands, the growth factors HGF and MSP, respectively. Blocking MET and RON kinase activation and downstream signaling is a promising therapeutic strategy for preventing tumor progression and metastasis. Written for cancer physicians and biologists as well as drug discovery and development teams in both industry and academia, this is the first book of its kind which explores novel approaches to inhibit MET and RON kinases other than traditional small molecule kinase inhibitors. These new strategies target key tumorigenic processes on the outside of the cell, such as growth factor activation by proteases. These unique strategies have promising potential as an improved alternative to kinase inhibitors, chemotherapy, or radiation treatment.

Author Bios

Dr. James W. Janetka is an Associate Professor at Washington University School of Medicine, and has over 20 years of medicinal chemistry and drug discovery experience within both industry and academia. He has published 50 peer-reviewed manuscripts and holds 20 US patents in oncology and infectious disease.

Roseann Benson is a chemical engineer turned scientific writer and editor. As a consultant for Harvard and Washington University Medical Schools, she has edited and contributed to manuscripts and books that have been published by Wiley, CUP, Nature, and Science.


Biology 171


Imagine what life would be like if you and the people around you could not communicate. You would not be able to express your wishes to others, nor could you ask questions about your location. Social organization is dependent on communication between the individuals that comprise that society without communication, society would fall apart.

As with people, it is vital for individual cells to be able to interact with their environment. This is true for both a one-celled organism growing in a puddle and a large animal living on a savanna. In order to properly respond to external stimuli, cells have developed complex mechanisms of communication that can receive a message, transfer the information across the plasma membrane, and then produce changes within the cell in response to the message.

In multicellular organisms, cells send and receive chemical messages constantly to coordinate the actions of distant organs, tissues, and cells. The ability to send messages quickly and efficiently enables cells to coordinate and fine-tune their functions.

While the necessity for cellular communication in larger organisms seems obvious, even single-celled organisms communicate with each other. Yeast cells signal each other to aid in finding other yeast cells for reproduction. Some forms of bacteria coordinate their actions in order to form large complexes called biofilms or to organize the production of toxins to remove competing organisms. The ability of cells to communicate through chemical signals originated in single cells and was essential for the evolution of multicellular organisms. The efficient and relatively error-free function of communication systems is vital for all life as we know it.

Learning Objectives

By the end of this section, you will be able to do the following:

  • Describe four types of signaling mechanisms found in multicellular organisms
  • Compare internal receptors with cell-surface receptors
  • Recognize the relationship between a ligand’s structure and its mechanism of action

There are two kinds of communication in the world of living cells. Communication between cells is called intercellular signaling , and communication within a cell is called intracellular signaling . An easy way to remember the distinction is by understanding the Latin origin of the prefixes: inter- means “between” (for example, intersecting lines are those that cross each other) and intra- means “inside” (as in intravenous).

Chemical signals are released by signaling cells in the form of small, usually volatile or soluble molecules called ligands. A ligand is a molecule that binds another specific molecule, in some cases, delivering a signal in the process. Ligands can thus be thought of as signaling molecules. Ligands interact with proteins in target cells , which are cells that are affected by chemical signals these proteins are also called receptors . Ligands and receptors exist in several varieties however, a specific ligand will have a specific receptor that typically binds only that ligand.

Forms of Signaling

There are four categories of chemical signaling found in multicellular organisms: paracrine signaling, endocrine signaling, autocrine signaling, and direct signaling across gap junctions ((Figure)). The main difference between the different categories of signaling is the distance that the signal travels through the organism to reach the target cell. We should note here that not all cells are affected by the same signals.


Paracrine Signaling

Signals that act locally between cells that are close together are called paracrine signals . Paracrine signals move by diffusion through the extracellular matrix. These types of signals usually elicit quick responses that last only a short period of time. In order to keep the response localized, paracrine ligand molecules are normally quickly degraded by enzymes or removed by neighboring cells. Removing the signals will reestablish the concentration gradient for the signal, allowing them to quickly diffuse through the intracellular space if released again.

One example of paracrine signaling is the transfer of signals across synapses between nerve cells. A nerve cell consists of a cell body, several short, branched extensions called dendrites that receive stimuli, and a long extension called an axon, which transmits signals to other nerve cells or muscle cells. The junction between nerve cells where signal transmission occurs is called a synapse. A synaptic signal is a chemical signal that travels between nerve cells. Signals within the nerve cells are propagated by fast-moving electrical impulses. When these impulses reach the end of the axon, the signal continues on to a dendrite of the next cell by the release of chemical ligands called neurotransmitters from the presynaptic cell (the cell emitting the signal). The neurotransmitters are transported across the very small distances (20–40 nanometers) between nerve cells, which are called chemical synapses ((Figure)). The small distance between nerve cells allows the signal to travel quickly this enables an immediate response, such as, “Take your hand off the stove!”

When the neurotransmitter binds the receptor on the surface of the postsynaptic cell, the electrochemical potential of the target cell changes, and the next electrical impulse is launched. The neurotransmitters that are released into the chemical synapse are degraded quickly or get reabsorbed by the presynaptic cell so that the recipient nerve cell can recover quickly and be prepared to respond rapidly to the next synaptic signal.


Endocrine Signaling

Signals from distant cells are called endocrine signals , and they originate from endocrine cells . (In the body, many endocrine cells are located in endocrine glands, such as the thyroid gland, the hypothalamus, and the pituitary gland.) These types of signals usually produce a slower response but have a longer-lasting effect. The ligands released in endocrine signaling are called hormones, signaling molecules that are produced in one part of the body but affect other body regions some distance away.

Hormones travel the large distances between endocrine cells and their target cells via the bloodstream, which is a relatively slow way to move throughout the body. Because of their form of transport, hormones become diluted and are present in low concentrations when they act on their target cells. This is different from paracrine signaling, in which local concentrations of ligands can be very high.

Autocrine Signaling

Autocrine signals are produced by signaling cells that can also bind to the ligand that is released. This means the signaling cell and the target cell can be the same or a similar cell (the prefix auto- means self, a reminder that the signaling cell sends a signal to itself). This type of signaling often occurs during the early development of an organism to ensure that cells develop into the correct tissues and take on the proper function. Autocrine signaling also regulates pain sensation and inflammatory responses. Further, if a cell is infected with a virus, the cell can signal itself to undergo programmed cell death, killing the virus in the process. In some cases, neighboring cells of the same type are also influenced by the released ligand. In embryological development, this process of stimulating a group of neighboring cells may help to direct the differentiation of identical cells into the same cell type, thus ensuring the proper developmental outcome.

Direct Signaling Across Gap Junctions

Gap junctions in animals and plasmodesmata in plants are connections between the plasma membranes of neighboring cells. These fluid-filled channels allow small signaling molecules, called intracellular mediators , to diffuse between the two cells. Small molecules, such as calcium ions (Ca 2+ ), are able to move between cells, but large molecules like proteins and DNA cannot fit through the channels. The specificity of the channels ensures that the cells remain independent but can quickly and easily transmit signals. The transfer of signaling molecules communicates the current state of the cell that is directly next to the target cell this allows a group of cells to coordinate their response to a signal that only one of them may have received. In plants, plasmodesmata are ubiquitous, making the entire plant into a giant communication network.

Types of Receptors

Receptors are protein molecules in the target cell or on its surface that bind ligand. There are two types of receptors, internal receptors and cell-surface receptors.

Internal receptors

Internal receptors , also known as intracellular or cytoplasmic receptors, are found in the cytoplasm of the cell and respond to hydrophobic ligand molecules that are able to travel across the plasma membrane. Once inside the cell, many of these molecules bind to proteins that act as regulators of mRNA synthesis (transcription) to mediate gene expression. Gene expression is the cellular process of transforming the information in a cell’s DNA into a sequence of amino acids, which ultimately forms a protein. When the ligand binds to the internal receptor, a conformational change is triggered that exposes a DNA-binding site on the protein. The ligand-receptor complex moves into the nucleus, then binds to specific regulatory regions of the chromosomal DNA and promotes the initiation of transcription ((Figure)). Transcription is the process of copying the information in a cell’s DNA into a special form of RNA called messenger RNA (mRNA) the cell uses information in the mRNA (which moves out into the cytoplasm and associates with ribosomes) to link specific amino acids in the correct order, producing a protein. Internal receptors can directly influence gene expression without having to pass the signal on to other receptors or messengers.


Cell-Surface Receptors

Cell-surface receptors , also known as transmembrane receptors, are cell surface, membrane-anchored (integral) proteins that bind to external ligand molecules. This type of receptor spans the plasma membrane and performs signal transduction, through which an extracellular signal is converted into an intracellular signal. Ligands that interact with cell-surface receptors do not have to enter the cell that they affect. Cell-surface receptors are also called cell-specific proteins or markers because they are specific to individual cell types.

Because cell-surface receptor proteins are fundamental to normal cell functioning, it should come as no surprise that a malfunction in any one of these proteins could have severe consequences. Errors in the protein structures of certain receptor molecules have been shown to play a role in hypertension (high blood pressure), asthma, heart disease, and cancer.

Each cell-surface receptor has three main components: an external ligand-binding domain, a hydrophobic membrane-spanning region called a transmembrane domain, and an intracellular domain inside the cell. The ligand-binding domain is also called the extracellular domain . The size and extent of each of these domains vary widely, depending on the type of receptor.

How Viruses Recognize a Host Unlike living cells, many viruses do not have a plasma membrane or any of the structures necessary to sustain metabolic life. Some viruses are simply composed of an inert protein shell enclosing DNA or RNA. To reproduce, viruses must invade a living cell, which serves as a host, and then take over the hosts cellular apparatus. But how does a virus recognize its host?

Viruses often bind to cell-surface receptors on the host cell. For example, the virus that causes human influenza (flu) binds specifically to receptors on membranes of cells of the respiratory system. Chemical differences in the cell-surface receptors among hosts mean that a virus that infects a specific species (for example, humans) often cannot infect another species (for example, chickens).

However, viruses have very small amounts of DNA or RNA compared to humans, and, as a result, viral reproduction can occur rapidly. Viral reproduction invariably produces errors that can lead to changes in newly produced viruses these changes mean that the viral proteins that interact with cell-surface receptors may evolve in such a way that they can bind to receptors in a new host. Such changes happen randomly and quite often in the reproductive cycle of a virus, but the changes only matter if a virus with new binding properties comes into contact with a suitable host. In the case of influenza, this situation can occur in settings where animals and people are in close contact, such as poultry and swine farms. 1 Once a virus jumps the former “species barrier” to a new host, it can spread quickly. Scientists watch newly appearing viruses (called emerging viruses) closely in the hope that such monitoring can reduce the likelihood of global viral epidemics.

Cell-surface receptors are involved in most of the signaling in multicellular organisms. There are three general categories of cell-surface receptors: ion channel-linked receptors, G-protein-linked receptors, and enzyme-linked receptors.

Ion channel-linked receptors bind a ligand and open a channel through the membrane that allows specific ions to pass through. To form a channel, this type of cell-surface receptor has an extensive membrane-spanning region. In order to interact with the double layer of phospholipid fatty acid tails that form the center of the plasma membrane, many of the amino acids in the membrane-spanning region are hydrophobic in nature. Conversely, the amino acids that line the inside of the channel are hydrophilic to allow for the passage of water or ions. When a ligand binds to the extracellular region of the channel, there is a conformational change in the protein’s structure that allows ions such as sodium, calcium, magnesium, and hydrogen to pass through ((Figure)).


G-protein-linked receptors bind a ligand and activate a membrane protein called a G-protein. The activated G-protein then interacts with either an ion channel or an enzyme in the membrane ((Figure)). All G-protein-linked receptors have seven transmembrane domains, but each receptor has its own specific extracellular domain and G-protein-binding site.

Cell signaling using G-protein-linked receptors occurs as a cyclic series of events. Before the ligand binds, the inactive G-protein can bind to a newly revealed site on the receptor specific for its binding. Once the G-protein binds to the receptor, the resulting change in shape activates the G-protein, which releases guanosine diposphate (GDP) and picks up guanosine 3-phosphate (GTP). The subunits of the G-protein then split into the α subunit and the βγ subunit. One or both of these G-protein fragments may be able to activate other proteins as a result. After awhile, the GTP on the active α subunit of the G-protein is hydrolyzed to GDP and the βγ subunit is deactivated. The subunits reassociate to form the inactive G-protein and the cycle begins anew.


G-protein-linked receptors have been extensively studied and much has been learned about their roles in maintaining health. Bacteria that are pathogenic to humans can release poisons that interrupt specific G-protein-linked receptor function, leading to illnesses such as pertussis, botulism, and cholera. In cholera ((Figure)), for example, the water-borne bacterium Vibrio cholerae produces a toxin, choleragen, that binds to cells lining the small intestine. The toxin then enters these intestinal cells, where it modifies a G-protein that controls the opening of a chloride channel and causes it to remain continuously active, resulting in large losses of fluids from the body and potentially fatal dehydration as a result.


Enzyme-linked receptors are cell-surface receptors with intracellular domains that are associated with an enzyme. In some cases, the intracellular domain of the receptor itself is an enzyme. Other enzyme-linked receptors have a small intracellular domain that interacts directly with an enzyme. The enzyme-linked receptors normally have large extracellular and intracellular domains, but the membrane-spanning region consists of a single alpha-helical region of the peptide strand. When a ligand binds to the extracellular domain, a signal is transferred through the membrane, activating the enzyme. Activation of the enzyme sets off a chain of events within the cell that eventually leads to a response. One example of this type of enzyme-linked receptor is the tyrosine kinase receptor ((Figure)). A kinase is an enzyme that transfers phosphate groups from ATP to another protein. The tyrosine kinase receptor transfers phosphate groups to tyrosine molecules (tyrosine residues). First, signaling molecules bind to the extracellular domain of two nearby tyrosine kinase receptors. The two neighboring receptors then bond together, or dimerize. Phosphates are then added to tyrosine residues on the intracellular domain of the receptors (phosphorylation). The phosphorylated residues can then transmit the signal to the next messenger within the cytoplasm.


HER2 is a receptor tyrosine kinase. In 30 percent of human breast cancers, HER2 is permanently activated, resulting in unregulated cell division. Lapatinib, a drug used to treat breast cancer, inhibits HER2 receptor tyrosine kinase autophosphorylation (the process by which the receptor adds phosphates onto itself), thus reducing tumor growth by 50 percent. Besides autophosphorylation, which of the following steps would be inhibited by Lapatinib?

  1. Signaling molecule binding, dimerization, and the downstream cellular response
  2. Dimerization, and the downstream cellular response
  3. The downstream cellular response
  4. Phosphatase activity, dimerization, and the downsteam cellular response

Signaling Molecules

Produced by signaling cells and the subsequent binding to receptors in target cells, ligands act as chemical signals that travel to the target cells to coordinate responses. The types of molecules that serve as ligands are incredibly varied and range from small proteins to small ions like calcium (Ca 2+ ).

Small Hydrophobic Ligands

Small hydrophobic ligands can directly diffuse through the plasma membrane and interact with internal receptors. Important members of this class of ligands are the steroid hormones. Steroids are lipids that have a hydrocarbon skeleton with four fused rings different steroids have different functional groups attached to the carbon skeleton. Steroid hormones include the female sex hormone, estradiol, which is a type of estrogen the male sex hormone, testosterone and cholesterol, which is an important structural component of biological membranes and a precursor of steriod hormones ((Figure)). Other hydrophobic hormones include thyroid hormones and vitamin D. In order to be soluble in blood, hydrophobic ligands must bind to carrier proteins while they are being transported through the bloodstream.


Water-Soluble Ligands

Water-soluble ligands are polar and, therefore, cannot pass through the plasma membrane unaided sometimes, they are too large to pass through the membrane at all. Instead, most water-soluble ligands bind to the extracellular domain of cell-surface receptors. This group of ligands is quite diverse and includes small molecules, peptides, and proteins.

Other Ligands

Nitric oxide (NO) is a gas that also acts as a ligand. It is able to diffuse directly across the plasma membrane, and one of its roles is to interact with receptors in smooth muscle and induce relaxation of the tissue. NO has a very short half-life and, therefore, only functions over short distances. Nitroglycerin, a treatment for heart disease, acts by triggering the release of NO, which causes blood vessels to dilate (expand), thus restoring blood flow to the heart. NO has become better known recently because the pathway that it affects is targeted by prescription medications for erectile dysfunction, such as Viagra (erection involves dilated blood vessels).

Section Summary

Cells communicate by both inter- and intracellular signaling. Signaling cells secrete ligands that bind to target cells and initiate a chain of events within the target cell. The four categories of signaling in multicellular organisms are paracrine signaling, endocrine signaling, autocrine signaling, and direct signaling across gap junctions. Paracrine signaling takes place over short distances. Endocrine signals are carried long distances through the bloodstream by hormones, and autocrine signals are received by the same cell that sent the signal or other nearby cells of the same kind. Gap junctions allow small molecules, including signaling molecules, to flow between neighboring cells.

Internal receptors are found in the cell cytoplasm. Here, they bind ligand molecules that cross the plasma membrane these receptor-ligand complexes move to the nucleus and interact directly with cellular DNA. Cell-surface receptors transmit a signal from outside the cell to the cytoplasm. Ion channel-linked receptors, when bound to their ligands, form a pore through the plasma membrane through which certain ions can pass. G-protein-linked receptors interact with a G-protein on the cytoplasmic side of the plasma membrane, promoting the exchange of bound GDP for GTP and interacting with other enzymes or ion channels to transmit a signal. Enzyme-linked receptors transmit a signal from outside the cell to an intracellular domain of a membrane-bound enzyme. Ligand binding causes activation of the enzyme. Small hydrophobic ligands (like steroids) are able to penetrate the plasma membrane and bind to internal receptors. Water-soluble hydrophilic ligands are unable to pass through the membrane instead, they bind to cell-surface receptors, which transmit the signal to the inside of the cell.

Art Connections

(Figure) HER2 is a receptor tyrosine kinase. In 30 percent of human breast cancers, HER2 is permanently activated, resulting in unregulated cell division. Lapatinib, a drug used to treat breast cancer, inhibits HER2 receptor tyrosine kinase autophosphorylation (the process by which the receptor adds phosphates onto itself), thus reducing tumor growth by 50 percent. Besides autophosphorylation, which of the following steps would be inhibited by Lapatinib?

  1. Signaling molecule binding, dimerization, and the downstream cellular response.
  2. Dimerization, and the downstream cellular response.
  3. The downstream cellular response.
  4. Phosphatase activity, dimerization, and the downsteam cellular response.

(Figure) C. The downstream cellular response would be inhibited.

Free Response

What is the difference between intracellular signaling and intercellular signaling?

Intracellular signaling occurs within a cell, and intercellular signaling occurs between cells.

How are the effects of paracrine signaling limited to an area near the signaling cells?

The secreted ligands are quickly removed by degradation or reabsorption into the cell so that they cannot travel far.

What are the differences between internal receptors and cell-surface receptors?

Internal receptors are located inside the cell, and their ligands enter the cell to bind the receptor. The complex formed by the internal receptor and the ligand then enters the nucleus and directly affects protein production by binding to the chromosomal DNA and initiating the making of mRNA that codes for proteins. Cell-surface receptors, however, are embedded in the plasma membrane, and their ligands do not enter the cell. Binding of the ligand to the cell-surface receptor initiates a cell signaling cascade and does not directly influence the making of proteins however, it may involve the activation of intracellular proteins.

Cells grown in the laboratory are mixed with a dye molecule that is unable to pass through the plasma membrane. If a ligand is added to the cells, observations show that the dye enters the cells. What type of receptor did the ligand bind to on the cell surface?

An ion channel receptor opened up a pore in the membrane, which allowed the ionic dye to move into the cell.

Insulin is a hormone that regulates blood sugar by binding to its receptor, insulin receptor tyrosine kinase. How does insulin’s behavior differ from steroid hormone signaling, and what can you infer about its structure?

Insulin’s receptor is an enzyme-linked transmembrane receptor, as can be determined from the “tyrosine kinase” in its name. This receptor is embedded in the plasma membrane, and insulin binds to its extracellular (outer) surface to initiate intracellular signaling cascades.

Normally, steroid hormones cross the plasma membrane to bind with intracellular receptors. These intracellular hormone-receptor complexes then interact directly with DNA to regulate transcription. This limits steroid hormones to be small, non-polar molecules so they can cross the plasma membrane. However, since insulin does not have to cross into the cell it could be large or polar (it is a small, polar molecule).

Footnotes

    A. B. Sigalov, The School of Nature. IV. Learning from Viruses, Self/Nonself 1, no. 4 (2010): 282-298. Y. Cao, X. Koh, L. Dong, X. Du, A. Wu, X. Ding, H. Deng, Y. Shu, J. Chen, T. Jiang, Rapid Estimation of Binding Activity of Influenza Virus Hemagglutinin to Human and Avian Receptors, PLoS One 6, no. 4 (2011): e18664.

Glossary


Signaling pathways with Receptor Tyrosine Kinase clarification - Biology

Clinical pain is a serious public health issue. Treatment of pain-related suffering requires knowledge of how pain signals are initially interpreted and subsequently transmitted and perpetuated. This review article is one of three reviews in this issue of Neuron that address our understanding of the pain process and possible solutions to the problem from both cellular- and systems-level viewpoints.

The electrophysiological properties of peripheral neurons activated by noxious stimuli, the primary afferent nociceptors, have been investigated intensively, and our knowledge about the molecular basis of transducers for noxious stimuli has increased greatly. In contrast, understanding of the intracellular signaling mechanisms regulating nociceptor sensitization downstream of ligand binding to the receptors is still at a relatively nascent stage. After outlining the initiated signaling cascades, we discuss the emerging plasticity within these cascades and the importance of subcellular compartmentalization. In addition, the recently realized importance of functional interactions with the extracellular matrix, cytoskeleton, intracellular organelles such as mitochondria, and sex hormones will be introduced. This burgeoning literature establishes new cellular features crucial for the function of nociceptive neurons and argues that additional focus should be placed on understanding the complex integration of cellular events that make up the “cell biology of pain.”


Oxidants in Receptor Tyrosine Kinase Signal Transduction Pathways

The accumulation of oxygen in the atmosphere created an evolutionary stress for organisms to survive because oxygen, while the by-product of photosynthesis and an important substrate in oxidative metabolism, can also be partially reduced to form toxic products. These forms of oxygen, reduced by one electron or two electrons, yield superoxide anion (O2 •- ) and hydrogen peroxide (H2O2), respectively. Recent studies suggest that reactive oxygen species (ROS) such as O2 •- and H2O2 function as mitogenic mediators of activated growth-factor receptor signaling. Reported data imply that growth factor-stimulated ROS generation can mediate intracellular signaling pathways by activating protein tyrosine kinases, inhibiting protein tyrosine phosphatase, and regulating redox-sensitive gene expression. This review examines the mechanisms of growth factor-induced generation of ROS and their roles in specific receptor tyrosine kinase signaling pathways.


Biology Chapter 11

A) A G protein-coupled receptor bound to GTP is in its active state.

B) A G protein bound to GTP is in its active state.

C) A G protein bound to GDP is in its active state.

A) It acts as a signal receptor that activates tyrosine kinases.

B) It binds with a receptor protein that enters the nucleus and activates expression of specific genes.

C) It acts as a steroid signal receptor that activates ion channel proteins in the plasma membrane.

A) G protein-coupled receptors

B) ligand-gated ion channels

A) The cytoplasmic levels of cAMP would decrease.

B) The transcription of certain genes would decrease.

C) The cytosolic calcium concentration would increase.

C) along the exterior margin

A) receptor tyrosine kinase

B) G protein-coupled receptor

C) ligand-gated ion channel

A) The receptor molecules are themselves lipids or glycolipids.

B) The receptor may be inside the nucleus of a target cell.

C) The unbound steroid receptors are quickly recycled by lysosomes.

A) binding of G proteins to G protein-coupled receptors

B) ligand-gated ion channel signaling pathways

C) adenylyl cyclase activity

A) activation of receptor tyrosine kinases

B) activation of steroid hormone receptors

C) activation of G protein-coupled receptors

A) It modifies a G protein involved in regulating salt and water secretion.

B) It modifies adenylyl cyclase and triggers excess formation of cAMP.

C) It signals IP3to act as a second messenger for the release of calcium.


Watch the video: G Protein gekoppelte Rezeptoren mit Aktivierung der Proteinkinase A durch Adenylatzyklase mit cAMP (December 2022).