Structural basis of MET receptor dimerization by the bacterial invasion protein InlB and the HGF/SF splice variant NK1.

Hartmut H Niemann
Hartmut H Niemann
Bielefeld University

Biochim Biophys Acta 2013 Oct 31;1834(10):2195-204. Epub 2012 Oct 31.

Department of Chemistry and Center for Biotechnology (CeBiTec), Bielefeld University, 33501 Bielefeld, Germany. Electronic address:

The structural basis of ligand-induced dimerization of the receptor tyrosine kinase MET by its natural ligand hepatocyte growth factor/scatter factor (HGF/SF) is not well understood. However, interesting insight into the molecular mechanism of MET dimerization has emerged from crystal structures of MET in complex with a bacterial agonist, the invasion protein internalin B (InlB) from pathogenic Listeria monocytogenes. MET activation by InlB promotes uptake of bacteria into host cells. Structural and biophysical data suggest that InlB is monomeric on its own but dimerizes upon binding to the membrane-anchored MET receptor promoting the formation of a signaling active 2:2 complex. The dimerization interface is small and unusually located on the convex side of the curved InlB leucine-rich repeat (LRR) domain. As InlB does not dimerize in solution, the dimerization site could only be identified by studying packing contacts of InlB in various crystal forms and had to be proven by scrutinizing its biological relevance in cellular assays. InlB dimerization is thus an example of a low-affinity contact that appears irrelevant in solution but becomes physiologically significant in the context of 2-dimensional diffusion restricted to the membrane plane. The resulting 2:2 InlB:MET complex has an InlB dimer at its center with one MET molecule bound peripherally to each InlB. This model of ligand-mediated MET dimerization may serve as a blue-print to understand MET activation by NK1, a naturally occurring HGF/SF splice variant and MET agonist. Crystal structures of NK1 repeatedly show a NK1 dimer, in which residues implicated in MET-binding are located on the outside. Thus, MET dimerization by NK1 may also be ligand-mediated with a NK1 dimer at the center of the 2:2 complex with one MET molecule bound peripherally to each NK1. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled: Emerging recognition and activation mechanisms of receptor tyrosine kinases.

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