Crystallographic evidence for dimerization of unliganded tumor necrosis factor receptor

James H. Naismith, Tracey Q. Devine, Barbara J. Brandhuber, Stephen R. Sprang

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Activation of the cell surface receptors for tumor necrosis factor (TNF) is effected by the aggregation of cytoplasmic domains that occurs when the extracellular domains of two or three receptors bind to trimeric TNFα or TNFβ. The structure of the type I TNF receptor extracellular domain (sTNF- R1), crystallized in the absence of TNF, has now been determined at 2.25-Å resolution. The receptor itself is an elongated molecule comprising four disulfide-rich domains in a nearly linear array. Contrary to expectations, the unliganded domains are found to associate into dimers of two distinct types, in which monomers are related by local two-fold axes of symmetry. In one case, the receptors are antiparallel to each other and associate through an interface that overlaps the TNF binding site. If intact receptors were capable of such an association, their cytoplasmic domains would be separated by over 100 Å. This interaction could inhibit signaling in the absence of TNF. Parallel dimers are also observed in which the dimer interface is well separated from the TNF binding site. Associations among TNF-bound parallel dimers could cause receptor clustering. Both dimers bury substantial areas of protein surface and are formed by polar and non-polar interactions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)13303-13307
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number22
StatePublished - Jun 2 1995


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