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Physics  1999 

A Thermodynamic Model for Receptor Clustering

DOI: 10.1016/S0006-3495(99)77073-6

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Intracellular signaling often arises from ligand-induced oligomerization of cell surface receptors. This oligomerization or clustering process is fundamentally a cooperative behavior between near-neighbor receptor molecules; the properties of this cooperative process clearly affects the signal transduction. Recent investigations have revealed the molecular basis of receptor-receptor interactions, but a simple theoretical framework for using this data to predict cluster formation has been lacking. Here, we propose a simple, coarse-grained, phenomenological model for ligand-modulated receptor interactions and discuss its equilibrium properties via mean-field theory. The existence of a first-order transition for this model has immediate implications regarding the robustness of the cellular signaling response.


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