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  1. The B cell and T cell antigen receptors (BCR and TCR) share a common architecture in which variable dimeric antigen-binding modules assemble with invariant dimeric signaling modules to form functional receptor complexes. In the TCR, a highly conserved T cell receptor αβ (TCRαβ) transmembrane (TM) interface forms a rigid structure around which its three dimeric signaling modules assemble through well-characterized polar interactions. Noting that the key features stabilizing this TCRαβ TM interface also appear with high evolutionary conservation in the TM sequences of the membrane immunoglobulin (mIg) heavy chains that form the BCR’s homodimeric antigen-binding module, we asked whether the BCR contained an analogous TM structure. Using an unbiased biochemical and computational modeling approach, we found that the mouse IgM BCR forms a core TM structure that is remarkably similar to that of the TCR. This structure is reinforced by a network of interhelical hydrogen bonds, and our model is nearly identical to the arrangement observed in the just-released cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM) structures of intact human BCRs. Our biochemical analysis shows that the integrity of this TM structure is vital for stable assembly with the BCR signaling module CD79AB in the B cell endoplasmic reticulum, and molecular dynamics simulations indicate that BCRs of all five isotypes can form comparable structures. These results demonstrate that, despite their many differences in composition, complexity, and ligand type, TCRs and BCRs rely on a common core TM structure that has been shaped by evolution for optimal receptor assembly and stability in the cell membrane. 
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  2. Abstract

    Caveolin‐1 is an integral membrane protein that is known to acquire a number of posttranslational modifications upon trafficking to the plasma membrane. In particular, caveolin‐1 is palmitoylated at three cysteine residues (C133, C143, and C156) located within theC‐terminal domain of the protein which could have structural and topological implications. Herein, a reliable preparation of full‐lengthS‐alkylated caveolin‐1, which closely mimics the palmitoylation observed in vivo, is described. HPLC and ESI‐LC‐MS analyses verified the addition of the C16 alkyl groups to caveolin‐1 constructs containing one (C133), two (C133 and C143), and three (C133, C143, and C156) cysteine residues. Circular dichroism spectroscopy analysis of the constructs revealed thatS‐alkylation does not significantly affect theglobalhelicity of the protein; however, molecular dynamics simulations revealed that there werelocalregions where the helicity was altered positively or negatively byS‐alkylation. In addition, the simulations showed that lipidation tames the topological promiscuity of theC‐terminal domain, resulting in a disposition within the bilayer characterized by increased depth.

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  3. Abstract

    Cell signaling by receptor protein tyrosine kinases (RTKs) is tightly controlled by the counterbalancing actions of receptor protein tyrosine phosphatases (RPTPs). Due to their role in attenuating the signal‐initiating potency of RTKs, RPTPs have long been viewed as therapeutic targets. However, the development of activators of RPTPs has remained limited. We previously reported that the homodimerization of a representative member of the RPTP family (protein tyrosine phosphatase receptor J or PTPRJ) is regulated by specific transmembrane (TM) residues. Disrupting this interaction by single point mutations promotes PTPRJ access to its RTK substrates (e.g., EGFR and FLT3), reduces RTK's phosphorylation and downstream signaling, and ultimately antagonizes RTK‐driven cell phenotypes. Here, we designed and tested a series of first‐in‐class pH‐responsive TM peptide agonists of PTPRJ that are soluble in aqueous solution but insert as a helical TM domain in lipid membranes when the pH is lowered to match that of the acidic microenvironment of tumors. The most promising peptide reduced EGFR's phosphorylation and inhibited cancer cell EGFR‐driven migration and proliferation, similar to the PTPRJ's TM point mutations. Developing tumor‐selective and TM‐targeting peptide binders of critical RPTPs could afford a potentially transformative approach to studying RPTP's selectivity mechanism without requiring less specific inhibitors and represent a novel class of therapeutics against RTK‐driven cancers.

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