Analysis of heregulin symmetry by weighted evolutionary tracing

Ralf Landgraf, Daniel Fischer, David Eisenberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

69 Scopus citations


Heregulins are members of the protein family of EGF-like growth and differentiation factors. The primary cell-surface targets of heregulins are heterodimers of the EGF-receptor homolog HER2 with either HER3 or HER4. We used a weighted evolutionary trace analysis to identify structural features that distinguish the EGF-like domain (hrg) of heregulins from other members of the EGF family. In this analysis, each amino acid sequence is weighted according to its uniqueness and the variability in each position is assigned by an amino acid substitution matrix. Conserved residues in heregulin that are variable in other EGF-like domains are considered possible specificity-conferring residues. This analysis identifies two clusters of residues at the foot of the boot-shaped hrg domain. The residues in one cluster are recruited from the N-terminus; those in the other are from the Ω-1oop region and show a weak sequence similarity to the N-terminal residues at the opposite side of the boot. The remaining residues with high conservation scores distribute themselves into these two distinct surfaces on hrg. This pseudo-twofold symmetry and the presence of two distinct interfaces may reflect the preference of hrg for heterodimeric versus homodimeric HER complexes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)943-951
Number of pages9
JournalProtein Engineering
Issue number11
StatePublished - 1 Jan 1999


  • Evolutionary trace
  • HER
  • Heregulin
  • Receptor heterodimer
  • Symmetry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology


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