The protein encoded by this gene is a member of the fibroblast growth factor receptor family, where amino acid sequence is highly conserved between members and throughout evolution. FGFR family members differ from one another in their ligand affinities and tissue distribution. A full-length representative protein consists of an extracellular region, composed of three immunoglobulin domains, a single hydrophobic membrane-spanning segment and a cytoplasmic tyrosine kinase domain. The extracellular portion of the protein interacts with fibroblast growth factors, setting in motion a cascade of downstream signals, ultimately influencing mitogenesis and differentiation. This particular family member is a high-affinity receptor for acidic, basic and/or keratinocyte growth factor, depending on the isoform.
FGFR2 has important roles in embryonic development and tissue repair, especially bone and blood vessels. Like the other members of the Fibroblast growth factor receptor family, these receptors signal by binding to their ligand and dimerisation (pairing of receptors), which causes the tyrosine kinase domains to initiate a cascade of intracellular signals. On a molecular level these signals mediate cell division, growth and differentiation.
FGFR2 has two naturally occurring isoforms FGFR2IIIb and FGFR2IIIc, created by splicing of the third immunoglobulin-like domain. FGFR2IIIb is predominantly found in ectoderm derived tissues and endothelial organ lining, i.e. skin and internal organs. FGFR2IIIc is found in mesenchyme, which includes craniofacial bone and for this reason the mutations of this gene and isoform are associated with craniosynostosis.
Breast cancer, a mutation or single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) in intron 2 of the FGFR2 gene is associated with a higher breast cancer risk; however the risk is only mildly increased from about 10% lifetime breast cancer risk in the average woman in the industrialized world, to 12-14% risk in carriers of the SNP.
FGFR2 mutations are associated with craniosynostosis syndromes, which are skull malformations caused by premature fusion of cranial sutures and other disease features according to the mutation itself. Analysis of chromosomal anomalies in patients led to the identification and confirmation of FGFR2 as a cleft lip and/or palate locus.  On a molecular level, mutations that affect FGFR2IIIc are associated with marked changes in osteoblast proliferation and differentiation. Alteration in FGFR2 signalling is thought to underlie the craniosynostosis syndromes. To date, there are two mechanisms of altered FGFR2 signalling. The first is associated with constitutive activation of FGFR, where the FGFR2 receptor is always signalling, regardless of the amount of FGF ligand. This mechanism is found in patients with Crouzon and Pfeiffer syndrome. The second, which is associated with Apert syndrome is a loss of specificity of the FGFR2 isoform, resulting in the receptor binding to FGFs that it does not normally bind.
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