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Hematopoietic cell phosphatase (HCP) is a tyrosine phosphatase with two Src homology 2 (SH2) domains that is predominantly expressed in hematopoietic cells, including cells whose growth is regulated by interleukin-3 (IL-3). The potential effects of HCP on IL-3-induced protein tyrosine phosphorylation and growth regulation were examined to assess the role of HCP in hematopoiesis. Our studies demonstrate that, following ligand binding, HCP specifically associates with the beta chain of the IL-3 receptor through the amino-terminal SH2 domain of HCP, both in vivo and in vitro, and can dephosphorylate the receptor chain in vitro. The effects of increasing or decreasing HCP levels in IL-3-dependent cells were assessed with dexamethasone-inducible constructs containing an HCP cDNA in sense and antisense orientations. Increased HCP levels were found to reduce the levels of IL-3-induced tyrosine phosphorylation of the receptor and to dramatically suppress cell growth. Conversely, decreasing the levels of HCP increased IL-3-induced tyrosine phosphorylation of the receptor and marginally increased growth rate. These results support a role for HCP in the regulation of hematopoietic cell growth and begin to provide a mechanistic explanation for the dramatic effects that the genetic loss of HCP, which occurs in motheaten (me) and viable motheaten (mev) mice, has on hematopoiesis.