Seeing double: Crystal structures of the type I TNF receptor

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

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20 Scopus citations


The crystal structure of the extracellular domain of the type I tumor necrosis factor receptor (sTNF-R1) has been determined to 2.25 Å at pH 7.5. We have also solved the structure of sTNF-R1 at pH 3.7. sTNF-R1 is an elongated molecule consisting of a linear combination of four cysteine-rich motifs. Interestingly, the crystal structure reveals two distinct dimers of the receptor. One dimer is formed by a parallel arrangement of receptors, the other by an antiparallel arrangement of receptors. In the parallel arrangement of the receptors, the tumor necrosis factor (TNF) binding face of the receptor is completely exposed to solvent. However, in the antiparallel arrangement, the TNF binding face is intimately involved in the dimer interactions. Details of these recognition surfaces are discussed. Both these dimer interactions bury substantial surface area, comprise polar and apolar contact surfaces and have complimentary recognition surfaces. Thus these interactions are typical of genuine protein-protein interactions, rather than crystal packing contacts. These dimers may function to inhibit signal transduction in the absence of TNF or in the case of the parallel dimer, promote clustering of TNF/TNF receptor complexes on the cell surface.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)113-117
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Molecular Recognition
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1996


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