Insights into the molecular basis for fibroblast growth factor receptor autoinhibition and ligand-binding promiscuity

Shaun K. Olsen, Omar A. Ibrahimi, Angela Raucci, Fuming Zhang, Anna V. Eliseenkova, Avner Yayon, Claudio Basilico, Robert J. Linhardt, Joseph Schlessinger, Moosa Mohammadi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

162 Scopus citations


The prototypical fibroblast growth factor receptor (FGFR) extracellular domain consists of three Ig domains (D1-D3) of which the two membrane-proximal D2 and D3 domains and the interconnecting D2-D3 linker bear the determinants of ligand binding and specificity. In contrast, D1 and the D1-D2 linker are thought to play autoinhibitory roles in FGFR regulation. Here, we report the crystal structure of the three-Ig form of FGFR3c in complex with FGF1, an FGF that binds promiscuously to each of the seven principal FGFRs. In this structure, D1 and the D1-D2 linker are completely disordered, demonstrating that these regions are dispensable for FGF binding. Real-time binding experiments using surface plasmon resonance show that relative to two-Ig form, the three-Ig form of FGFR3c exhibits lower affinity for both FGF1 and heparin. Importantly, we demonstrate that this autoinhibition is mediated by intramolecular interactions of D1 and the D1-D2 linker with the minimal FGF and heparin-binding D2-D3 region. As in the FGF1-FGFR2c structure, but not the FGF1-FGFR1c structure, the alternatively spliced βC′-&E loop is ordered and interacts with FGF1 in the FGF1-FGFR3c structure. However, in contrast to the FGF1-FGFR2c structure in which the βC′-βE loop interacts with the β-trefoil core region of FGF1, in the FGF1-FGFR3c structure, this loop interacts extensively with the N-terminal region of FGF1, underscoring the importance of the FGF1 N terminus in conferring receptor-binding affinity and promiscuity. Importantly, comparison of the three FGF1-FGFR structures shows that the flexibility of the βC′-βE loop is a major determinant of ligand-binding specificity and promiscuity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)935-940
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jan 27 2004
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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