Adaptor proteins are a class of cytoplasmic proteins that bind to phosphorylated residues in receptor tyrosine kinases and trigger signaling cascades that control critically important cellular processes, such as cell survival, growth, differentiation, and motility. Here, we seek to characterize the interaction between epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) and the cytoplasmic adaptor protein growth factor receptor-bound protein 2 (Grb2) in a cellular context. To do so, we explore the utility of a highly biologically relevant model system, mammalian cells under reversible osmotic stress, and a recently introduced Förster resonance energy transfer microscopy method, fully quantified spectral imaging. We present a method that allows us to quantify the stoichiometry and the association constant of the EGFR-Grb2 binding interaction in the plasma membrane, in the presence and absence of activating ligand. The method that we introduce can have broad utility in membrane protein research, as it can be applied to different membrane protein-cytoplasmic protein pairs.
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