Isolated receptor tyrosine kinase transmembrane (TM) domains have been shown to form sequence-specific dimers in membranes. Yet, it is not clear whether studies of isolated TM domains yield knowledge that is relevant to full-length receptors or whether the large glycosylated extracellular domains alter the interactions between the TM helices. Here, we address this question by quantifying the effect of the pathogenic A391E TM domain mutation on the stability of the fibroblast growth factor receptor 3 dimer in the presence of the extracellular domain and comparing these results to the case of the isolated TM fibroblast growth factor receptor 3 domains. We perform the measurements in plasma membrane-derived vesicles using a Förster-resonance-energy-transfer- based method. The effect of the mutation on dimer stability in both cases is the same (∼-1.5 kcal/mol), suggesting that the interactions observed in simple TM-peptide model systems are relevant in a biological context.
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