Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Chemistry (PhD)

Degree Level



Chemistry & Biochemistry


Suresh K. Thallapuranam

Committee Member

Dan Davis

Second Committee Member

James Hinton

Third Committee Member

Roger Koeppe II

Fourth Committee Member

Frank Millett


Pure sciences, Fibroblast growth factor receptor, Kallmann, Ligand- binding domain, Tyrosine kinase


The interactions between FGF and fibroblast growth factor receptors are responsible for the regulation of key cellular processes. FGF is important in both germ cell and embryonic developments. FGF continues to play important roles during adulthood by regulating embryogenesis, cell differentiation, and wound healing (1-7). The regulations of these cellular events are initiated through FGF binding to the fibroblast growth factor receptors. The complex formed by FGF and the receptor involves a key interaction with heparin. Through interactions with heparin, the FGF, FGFR and Heparin form a 2:2:2 complex (8). This complex formation results in autophosphorylation in the tyrosine kinase domain in the cytoplasm. The autophosphorylation events lead to downstream signaling that result in the regulation of previously mentioned cellular processes (9, 10). Mutations within the FGF or FGFR may interfere with signaling or protein stability. Changes in the signaling efficiency by FGF or the FGFR are shown to lead to disease states There exist many point mutations in the FGF receptor that result in craniofacial, hypogonadotropic hypogonadism, anosmia, and tumor development. Using site-directed mutagenesis we have shown non-covalent interactions formed by Kallmann syndrome linked mutations result in a loss-of-binding between FGF and the FGF receptor. This evidence has shown that the non-covalent ligand binding interactions lost are due to changes in the D2 structure or binding site. Additionally, the R203C mutation, linked to breast cancer, was tested and determined to break a D2 stabilizing cation-ð bond. The cation-ð stabilized the binding interaction with heparin and provides stability to the D2 domain. Although the decreased stability of the D2 domain supports a loss-of-function, we are currently investigating intermolecular disulfide bond formation between adjacent receptor. This is a known mechanism among FGF receptors that may lead to signaling in the absence of a ligand.

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