Conventional wisdom holds that methylation of RTKs should be restricted to intracellular sites. Alterations — such as deletion, mutation, and proteolytic cleavage events — to the extracellular ligand binding and dimer interface domains of the EGFR can induce EGFR dimer formation, leading to aberrant receptor activation and oncogenic activity. Recently, the extracellular domain of EGFR was also shown to be methylated, suggesting that posttranslational protein methylation events directed to the extracellular dimer interface provide another mechanism to regulate the EGFR activation state by modulating receptor dimerization. Critically, these methylation events abrogate response to conformation-specific therapeutic antibodies such as cetuximab. In this issue of the
David M. Epstein, Elizabeth Buck
Ribbon diagram of the extracellular domain of EGFR.