Inhibition of Receptor Dimerization as a Novel Negative Feedback Mechanism of EGFR Signaling

Dimerization of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) is crucial for initiating signal transduction. We employed raster image correlation spectroscopy to continuously monitor the EGFR monomer-dimer equilibrium in living cells. EGFR dimer formation upon addition of EGF showed oscillatory behavior with a periodicity of about 2.5 min, suggesting the presence of a negative feedback loop to monomerize the receptor. We demonstrated that monomerization of EGFR relies on phospholipase Cγ, protein kinase C, and protein kinase D (PKD), while being independent of Ca2+ signaling and endocytosis. Phosphorylation of the juxtamembrane threonine residues of EGFR (T654/T669) by PKD was identified as the factor that shifts the monomer-dimer equilibrium of ligand bound EGFR towards the monomeric state. The dimerization state of the receptor correlated with the activity of an extracellular signal-regulated kinase, downstream of the EGFR. Based on these observations, we propose a novel, negative feedback mechanism that regulates EGFR signaling via receptor monomerization.