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ErbB1 dimerization is promoted by domain co-confinement and stabilized by ligand binding


The extent to which ligand occupancy and dimerization contribute to erbB1 signaling is controversial. To examine this, we used two-color quantum-dot tracking for visualization of the homodimerization of human erbB1 and quantification of the dimer off-rate (koff) on living cells. Kinetic parameters were extracted using a three-state hidden Markov model to identify transition rates between free, co-confined and dimerized states. We report that dimers composed of two ligand-bound receptors are long-lived and their koff is independent of kinase activity. By comparison, unliganded dimers have a more than four times faster koff. Transient co-confinement of receptors promotes repeated encounters and enhances dimer formation. Mobility decreases more than six times when ligand-bound receptors dimerize. Blockade of erbB1 kinase activity or disruption of actin networks results in faster diffusion of receptor dimers. These results implicate both signal propagation and the cortical cytoskeleton in reduced mobility of signaling-competent erbB1 dimers.

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Figure 1: Slowed diffusion as a function of receptor activation was revealed by single quantum-dot (QD) tracking on the apical surface of A431 cells.
Figure 2: Direct visualization of erbB1 dimerization is captured by two-color single-particle tracking.
Figure 3: Kinetics of homodimerization characterized by a three-state HMM reveal activation state dependent off-rates.
Figure 4: State-dependent analysis distinguishes between free, co-confined and dimerized erbB1 characteristics.
Figure 5: Disruption of the actin cytoskeleton influences receptor dynamics.

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This work was supported by National Science Foundation CAREER MCB-0845062 and the Oxnard Foundation (D.S.L.), and by US National Institutes of Health (NIH) R21RR024438 (K.A.L.), and NIH R01CA119232 (B.S.W.). S.T.L.-N. and P.J.C. were supported by National Science Foundation Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeships. We are grateful for the contributions of G. Graff (ideocraft) in composing images for figures. We thank colleagues in the New Mexico Spatiotemporal Modeling Center (P50GM0852673) for valuable input as well as technical support in the University of New Mexico Cell Pathology Laboratory. Images in this paper were generated in the University of New Mexico & Cancer Center Fluorescence Microscopy Shared Resource.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations



S.T.L.-N. conducted experiments. S.T.L.-N. and K.A.L. developed the HMM analysis. P.J.C. and K.A.L. implemented the overlay algorithm. D.S.L., B.S.W., S.T.L.-N. and K.A.L. designed and interpreted experiments. R.C.R. and P.M.P.v.B.H. provided essential camelid antibodies. All authors contributed to preparing the manuscript. D.S.L. directed the project.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Diane S Lidke.

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The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Supplementary information

Supplementary Text and Figures

Supplementary Figures 1–5, Supplementary Tables 1–3 and Supplementary Methods (PDF 1729 kb)

Supplementary Video 1

Formation of a QD-EGF ligand bound 2:2 erbB1 homodimer that approaches, interacts, and remains together for the remainder of the acquisition. This movie accompanies the interaction shown in Fig. 2a and 2b and the state trace and stills in Fig. 4b. The coordinate for each single molecule fit is shown as a green (QD585) or magenta circle (QD655) within the fluorescent spot. A colored tail for each particle shows a track of the previous 15 coordinates. The final frame shows the entire trajectory for each receptor of interest. Playback speed is 40 frames per second (fps) and is equivalent to 2 times real time. Scale bar = 0.5 μm. (MOV 1575 kb)

Supplementary Video 2

A short lived resting 1:1 erbB1 homodimer visualized using two-color QD-VHH. The movie corresponds to the state trace shown in Fig. S8f. Color scheme, comet tail, and payback speed are as previously mentioned for Video 1. (MOV 619 kb)

Supplementary Video 3

Formation of a ligand bound 2:2 erbB1 homodimer. The movie corresponds to the state trace shown in Supplementary Fig. 4h. Notice that the two receptors remain separated for the majority of the movie, before initial overlap of the signals. Color scheme, comet tail, and payback speed are as previously mentioned for Video 1. (MOV 1297 kb)

Supplementary Video 4

Continued observation of the dimer formed in Video 3 shows ligand bound erbB1 receptors that experience periods of separation and return. The movie corresponds to the state trace shown in Supplementary Fig. 4a. Notice that sustained spectral overlap is not apparent and magenta and green signals can be distinguished as the receptors diffuse. Color scheme, comet tail, and payback speed are as previously mentioned for Video 1. (MOV 2015 kb)

Supplementary Video 5

A long lived QD-EGF labeled 2:2 erbB1 homodimer that persists for the entire 50 second acquisition. The movie corresponds to the state trace shown in Supplementary Fig. 4g. Color scheme, comet tail, and payback speed are as previously mentioned for Video 1. (MOV 933 kb)

Supplementary Video 6

Interactions between QD-EGF labeled receptors in the presence of 1 μM PD153035. The movie corresponds to the state trace shown in Supplementary Fig. 4k. Notice the large region explored by the green receptor, in particular, and the very brief spectral overlap toward the end of the sequence. Color scheme, comet tail, and payback speed are as previously mentioned for Video 1. (MOV 1167 kb)

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Low-Nam, S., Lidke, K., Cutler, P. et al. ErbB1 dimerization is promoted by domain co-confinement and stabilized by ligand binding. Nat Struct Mol Biol 18, 1244–1249 (2011).

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