Structural Insights into Notch Receptor-Ligand Interactions

  • Penny A. HandfordEmail author
  • Boguslawa Korona
  • Richard Suckling
  • Christina Redfield
  • Susan M. Lea
Part of the Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology book series (AEMB, volume 1066)


Pioneering cell aggregation experiments from the Artavanis-Tsakonas group in the late 1980’s localized the core ligand recognition sequence in the Drosophila Notch receptor to epidermal growth factor-like (EGF) domains 11 and 12. Since then, advances in protein expression, structure determination methods and functional assays have enabled us to define the molecular basis of the core receptor/ligand interaction and given new insights into the architecture of the Notch complex at the cell surface. We now know that Notch EGF11 and 12 interact with the Delta/Serrate/LAG-2 (DSL) and C2 domains of ligand and that membrane-binding, together with additional protein-protein interactions outside the core recognition domains, are likely to fine-tune generation of the Notch signal. Furthermore, structure determination of O-glycosylated variants of Notch alone or in complex with receptor fragments, has shown that these sugars contribute directly to the binding interface, as well as to stabilizing intra-molecular domain structure, providing some mechanistic insights into the observed modulatory effects of O-glycosylation on Notch activity.

Future challenges lie in determining the complete extracellular architecture of ligand and receptor in order to understand (i) how Notch/ligand complexes may form at the cell surface in response to physiological cues, (ii) the role of lipid binding in stabilizing the Notch/ligand complex, (iii) the impact of O-glycosylation on binding and signalling and (iv) to dissect the different pathologies that arise as a consequence of mutations that affect proteins involved in the Notch pathway.


EGF12 Calcium binding Fringe C2 domain Lipid binding 



Delta Serrate LAG-2


epidermal growth factor-like



This work was funded by the MRC (MR/L001187/1), a Wellcome Investigator award to SML (100298) and by the EPA Cephalosporin Trust. We would like to thank Dr. Pat Whiteman for proof-reading and helpful comments.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Penny A. Handford
    • 1
    Email author
  • Boguslawa Korona
    • 1
  • Richard Suckling
    • 2
  • Christina Redfield
    • 1
  • Susan M. Lea
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of BiochemistryUniversity of OxfordOxfordUK
  2. 2.Sir William Dunn School of PathologyUniversity of OxfordOxfordUK

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