, Volume 68, Issue 21, pp 3469-3478
Date: 24 Aug 2011

Cistrans interactions of cell surface receptors: biological roles and structural basis

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Abstract

Cell surface receptors bind ligands expressed on other cells (in trans) in order to communicate with neighboring cells. However, an increasing number of cell surface receptors are found to also interact with ligands expressed on the same cell (in cis). These observations raise questions regarding the biological role of such cis interactions. Specifically, it is important to know whether cis and trans binding have distinct functional effects and, if so, how a single cell discriminates between interactions in cis versus trans. Further, what are the structural features that allow certain cell surface receptors to engage ligand both on the same as well as on an apposed cell membrane? Here, we summarize known examples of receptors that display cistrans binding and discuss the emerging diversity of biological roles played by these unconventional two-way interactions, along with their structural basis.