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Receptor tyrosine kinases are single-pass membrane proteins that form dimers within the membrane. The interactions of their transmembrane domains (TMDs) play a key role in dimerization and signaling. Fibroblast growth factor receptor 3 (FGFR3) is of interest as a G380R mutation in its TMD is the underlying cause of ~99% of the cases of achondroplasia, the most common form of human dwarfism. The structural consequences of this mutation remain uncertain: the mutation shifts the position of the TMD relative to the lipid bilayer but does not alter the association free energy. We have combined coarse-grained and all-atom molecular dynamics simulations to study the dimerization of wild-type, heterodimer, and mutant FGFR3 TMDs. The simulations reveal that the helices pack together in the dimer to form a flexible interface. The primary packing mode is mediated by a Gx3G motif. There is also a secondary dimer interface that is more highly populated in heterodimer and mutant configurations that may feature in the molecular mechanism of pathology. Both coarse-grained and atomistic simulations reveal a significant shift of the G380R mutant dimer TMD relative to the bilayer to allow interactions of the arginine side chain with lipid headgroup phosphates.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





323 - 332


Cell Membrane, Dimerization, Humans, Models, Molecular, Molecular Dynamics Simulation, Mutation, Protein Structure, Tertiary, Receptor, Fibroblast Growth Factor, Type 3