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1.  Molecular Mechanisms of SH2- and PTB-Domain-Containing Proteins in Receptor Tyrosine Kinase Signaling 
Intracellular signaling is mediated by reversible posttranslational modifications (PTMs) that include phosphorylation, ubiquitination, and acetylation, among others. In response to extracellular stimuli such as growth factors, receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs) typically dimerize and initiate signaling through phosphorylation of their cytoplasmic tails and downstream scaffolds. Signaling effectors are recruited to these phosphotyrosine (pTyr) sites primarily through Src homology 2 (SH2) domains and pTyr-binding (PTB) domains. This review describes how these conserved domains specifically recognize pTyr residues and play a major role in mediating precise downstream signaling events.
Proteins with the phosphotyrosine-binding motifs SH2 and PTB bind to activated receptor tyrosine kinases to control cell signaling (e.g., via MAPK). These proteins contain other domains that establish their specific functions.
PMCID: PMC3839611  PMID: 24296166
2.  Phosphoinositide 3-kinase enables phagocytosis of large particles by terminating actin assembly through Rac/Cdc42 GTPase-activating proteins 
Nature Communications  2015;6:8623.
Phagocytosis is responsible for the elimination of particles of widely disparate sizes, from large fungi or effete cells to small bacteria. Though superficially similar, the molecular mechanisms involved differ: engulfment of large targets requires phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K), while that of small ones does not. Here, we report that inactivation of Rac and Cdc42 at phagocytic cups is essential to complete internalization of large particles. Through a screen of 62 RhoGAP-family members, we demonstrate that ARHGAP12, ARHGAP25 and SH3BP1 are responsible for GTPase inactivation. Silencing these RhoGAPs impairs phagocytosis of large targets. The GAPs are recruited to large—but not small—phagocytic cups by products of PI3K, where they synergistically inactivate Rac and Cdc42. Remarkably, the prominent accumulation of phosphatidylinositol 3,4,5-trisphosphate characteristic of large-phagosome formation is less evident during phagocytosis of small targets, accounting for the contrasting RhoGAP distribution and the differential requirement for PI3K during phagocytosis of dissimilarly sized particles.
Phagocytosis of large (but not small) particles requires PI 3-kinase activity. Here, Schlam et al. show that Rho GTPase-activating proteins are recruited to the phagocytic cup by products of PI 3-kinase, resulting in the local inactivation of Rac and Cdc42 and allowing for the completion of internalization of large particles.
PMCID: PMC4634337  PMID: 26465210
3.  A Rac/Cdc42 exchange factor complex promotes formation of lateral filopodia and blood vessel lumen morphogenesis 
Nature Communications  2015;6:7286.
During angiogenesis, Rho-GTPases influence endothelial cell migration and cell–cell adhesion; however it is not known whether they control formation of vessel lumens, which are essential for blood flow. Here, using an organotypic system that recapitulates distinct stages of VEGF-dependent angiogenesis, we show that lumen formation requires early cytoskeletal remodelling and lateral cell–cell contacts, mediated through the RAC1 guanine nucleotide exchange factor (GEF) DOCK4 (dedicator of cytokinesis 4). DOCK4 signalling is necessary for lateral filopodial protrusions and tubule remodelling prior to lumen formation, whereas proximal, tip filopodia persist in the absence of DOCK4. VEGF-dependent Rac activation via DOCK4 is necessary for CDC42 activation to signal filopodia formation and depends on the activation of RHOG through the RHOG GEF, SGEF. VEGF promotes interaction of DOCK4 with the CDC42 GEF DOCK9. These studies identify a novel Rho-family GTPase activation cascade for the formation of endothelial cell filopodial protrusions necessary for tubule remodelling, thereby influencing subsequent stages of lumen morphogenesis.
Blood vessel development depends upon endothelial cell migration and adhesion, which are regulated by Rho-GTPases. Here the authors identify Rho-GTPase guanine nucleotide exchange factors that specifically control lateral filopodial contacts and are required for lumen formation during angiogenesis.
PMCID: PMC4507007  PMID: 26129894
4.  Directed network wiring identifies a key protein interaction in embryonic stem cell differentiation 
Molecular cell  2014;54(6):1034-1041.
Cell signaling depends on dynamic protein-protein interaction (PPI) networks, often assembled through modular domains each interacting with multiple peptide motifs. This complexity raises a conceptual challenge, namely to define whether a particular cellular response requires assembly of the complete PPI network of interest, or can be driven by a specific interaction. To address this issue we designed variants of the Grb2 SH2 domain (“pY-clamps”) whose specificity is highly biased toward a single phosphotyrosine (pY)-motif among many potential pYXNX Grb2-binding sites. Surprisingly, directing Grb2 predominantly to a single pY site of the Ptpn11/Shp2 phosphatase, but not other sites tested, was sufficient for differentiation of the essential primitive endoderm lineage from embryonic stem cells. Our data suggest that discrete connections within complex PPI networks can underpin regulation of particular biological events. We propose that this directed wiring approach will be of general utility in functionally annotating specific PPIs.
PMCID: PMC4090938  PMID: 24910098
5.  SELPHI: correlation-based identification of kinase-associated networks from global phospho-proteomics data sets 
Nucleic Acids Research  2015;43(Web Server issue):W276-W282.
While phospho-proteomics studies have shed light on the dynamics of cellular signaling, they mainly describe global effects and rarely explore mechanistic details, such as kinase/substrate relationships. Tools and databases, such as NetworKIN and PhosphoSitePlus, provide valuable regulatory details on signaling networks but rely on prior knowledge. They therefore provide limited information on less studied kinases and fewer unexpected relationships given that better studied signaling events can mask condition- or cell-specific ‘network wiring’.
SELPHI is a web-based tool providing in-depth analysis of phospho-proteomics data that is intuitive and accessible to non-bioinformatics experts. It uses correlation analysis of phospho-sites to extract kinase/phosphatase and phospho-peptide associations, and highlights the potential flow of signaling in the system under study. We illustrate SELPHI via analysis of phospho-proteomics data acquired in the presence of erlotinib—a tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI)—in cancer cells expressing TKI-resistant and -sensitive variants of the Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor. In this data set, SELPHI revealed information overlooked by the reporting study, including the known role of MET and EPHA2 kinases in conferring resistance to erlotinib in TKI sensitive strains. SELPHI can significantly enhance the analysis of phospho-proteomics data contributing to improved understanding of sample-specific signaling networks. SELPHI is freely available via
PMCID: PMC4489257  PMID: 25948583
6.  Incorporating DNA shearing in standard affinity purification allows simultaneous identification of both soluble and chromatin-bound interaction partners 
Journal of proteomics  2014;100:55-59.
Affinity purification coupled to mass spectrometry (AP-MS) is an effective means of identifying protein-protein interactions to better understand biological functions. However, issues associated with sample preparation still limit the success of AP-MS for specific classes of proteins, including those associated with chromatin that exhibit overall poor solubility in the protocols normally used for AP-MS analysis. Here, we wanted to provide a generally applicable method to simultaneously identify interactors for the chromatin-bound and the soluble fractions of a given bait protein. Using four FLAG-tagged canonical histone proteins (H2A, H2B, H3.1 and H4) we demonstrate that the chromatin solubility issue can be robustly alleviated by fragmenting DNA prior to AP-MS using a combination of sonication and nuclease treatment. We show that – in comparison to a commonly used AP-MS method – our optimized protocol greatly improves the recovery of chromatin-associated interactors for core histones. Critically, this is achieved while preserving the interaction partners associated with the soluble portion of the histones. Detailed protocols amenable to the study of both histone and non-histone baits are presented here.
PMCID: PMC4128382  PMID: 24412199
systems biology; chromatin; protein-protein interactions; Affinity purification coupled to mass spectrometry
7.  Phase Transition of a Disordered Nuage Protein Generates Environmentally Responsive Membraneless Organelles 
Molecular Cell  2015;57(5):936-947.
Cells chemically isolate molecules in compartments to both facilitate and regulate their interactions. In addition to membrane-encapsulated compartments, cells can form proteinaceous and membraneless organelles, including nucleoli, Cajal and PML bodies, and stress granules. The principles that determine when and why these structures form have remained elusive. Here, we demonstrate that the disordered tails of Ddx4, a primary constituent of nuage or germ granules, form phase-separated organelles both in live cells and in vitro. These bodies are stabilized by patterned electrostatic interactions that are highly sensitive to temperature, ionic strength, arginine methylation, and splicing. Sequence determinants are used to identify proteins found in both membraneless organelles and cell adhesion. Moreover, the bodies provide an alternative solvent environment that can concentrate single-stranded DNA but largely exclude double-stranded DNA. We propose that phase separation of disordered proteins containing weakly interacting blocks is a general mechanism for forming regulated, membraneless organelles.
Graphical Abstract
•Intrinsically disordered N terminus of Ddx4 forms organelles in cells and in vitro•Phase transition to form organelles is driven by electrostatic interactions•Methylation, ionic strength, and temperature changes can dissolve the organelles•Sequence determinants of formation are common in membraneless organelle proteins
Nott et al. demonstrate that a single protein constituent can reversibly form membraneless organelles both in vitro and in cells. The bodies provide an alternative solvent environment that concentrates single-stranded, but exclude double-stranded DNA. We propose that phase separation of disordered proteins is a general mechanism for forming regulated, membraneless organelles.
PMCID: PMC4352761  PMID: 25747659
8.  The Adaptor Protein p66Shc Inhibits mTOR-Dependent Anabolic Metabolism 
Science signaling  2014;7(313):ra17.
Adaptor proteins link surface receptors to intracellular signaling pathways, and potentially control the way cells respond to nutrient availability. Mice deficient in p66Shc, the most-recently evolved isoform of the Shc1 adaptor proteins and a mediator of receptor tyrosine kinase signaling display resistance to diabetes and obesity. Using quantitative mass spectrometry, we found that p66Shc inhibited glucose metabolism. Depletion of p66Shc enhanced glycolysis and increased the allocation of glucose-derived carbon into anabolic metabolism, characteristics of a metabolic shift called the Warburg effect. This change in metabolism was mediated by the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR), because inhibition of mTOR with rapamycin reversed the glycolytic phenotype caused by p66Shc deficiency. Thus, unlike the other isoforms of Shc1, p66Shc appears to antagonize insulin and mTOR signaling, which limits glucose uptake and metabolism. Our results identify a critical inhibitory role for p66Shc in anabolic metabolism.
PMCID: PMC4260967  PMID: 24550542
9.  Identification of a Novel Protein Interaction Motif in the Regulatory Subunit of Casein Kinase 2 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2014;34(2):246-258.
Casein kinase 2 (CK2) regulates multiple cellular processes and can promote oncogenesis. Interactions with the CK2β regulatory subunit of the enzyme target its catalytic subunit (CK2α or CK2α′) to specific substrates; however, little is known about the mechanisms by which these interactions occur. We previously showed that by binding CK2β, the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) EBNA1 protein recruits CK2 to promyelocytic leukemia (PML) nuclear bodies, where increased CK2-mediated phosphorylation of PML proteins triggers their degradation. Here we have identified a KSSR motif near the dimerization interface of CK2β as forming part of a protein interaction pocket that mediates interaction with EBNA1. We show that the EBNA1-CK2β interaction is primed by phosphorylation of EBNA1 on S393 (within a polyserine region). This phosphoserine is critical for EBNA1-induced PML degradation but does not affect EBNA1 functions in EBV replication or segregation. Using comparative proteomics of wild-type (WT) and KSSR mutant CK2β, we identified an uncharacterized cellular protein, C18orf25/ARKL1, that also binds CK2β through the KSSR motif and show that this involves a polyserine sequence resembling the CK2β binding sequence in EBNA1. Therefore, we have identified a new mechanism of CK2 interaction used by viral and cellular proteins.
PMCID: PMC3911286  PMID: 24216761
10.  Mapping differential interactomes by affinity purification coupled with data independent mass spectrometry acquisition 
Nature methods  2013;10(12):1239-1245.
Characterizing changes in protein-protein interactions associated with sequence variants (e.g. disease-associated mutations or splice forms) or following exposure to drugs, growth factors or hormones is critical to understanding how protein complexes are built, localized and regulated. Affinity purification (AP) coupled with mass spectrometry permits the analysis of protein interactions under near-physiological conditions, yet monitoring interaction changes requires the development of a robust and sensitive quantitative approach, especially for large-scale studies where cost and time are major considerations. To this end, we have coupled AP to data-independent mass spectrometric acquisition (SWATH), and implemented an automated data extraction and statistical analysis pipeline to score modulated interactions. Here, we use AP-SWATH to characterize changes in protein-protein interactions imparted by the HSP90 inhibitor NVP-AUY922 or melanoma-associated mutations in the human kinase CDK4. We show that AP-SWATH is a robust label-free approach to characterize such changes, and propose a scalable pipeline for systems biology studies.
PMCID: PMC3882083  PMID: 24162924
11.  A Global Protein Kinase and Phosphatase Interaction Network in Yeast 
Science (New York, N.Y.)  2010;328(5981):1043-1046.
The interactions of protein kinases and phosphatases with their regulatory subunits and substrates underpin cellular regulation. We identified a kinase and phosphatase interaction (KPI) network of 1844 interactions in budding yeast by mass spectrometric analysis of protein complexes. The KPI network contained many dense local regions of interactions that suggested new functions. Notably, the cell cycle phosphatase Cdc14 associated with multiple kinases that revealed roles for Cdc14 in mitogen-activated protein kinase signaling, the DNA damage response, and metabolism, whereas interactions of the target of rapamycin complex 1 (TORC1) uncovered new effector kinases in nitrogen and carbon metabolism. An extensive backbone of kinase-kinase interactions cross-connects the proteome and may serve to coordinate diverse cellular responses.
PMCID: PMC3983991  PMID: 20489023
12.  The CRAPome: a Contaminant Repository for Affinity Purification Mass Spectrometry Data 
Nature methods  2013;10(8):730-736.
Affinity purification coupled with mass spectrometry (AP-MS) is now a widely used approach for the identification of protein-protein interactions. However, for any given protein of interest, determining which of the identified polypeptides represent bona fide interactors versus those that are background contaminants (e.g. proteins that interact with the solid-phase support, affinity reagent or epitope tag) is a challenging task. While the standard approach is to identify nonspecific interactions using one or more negative controls, most small-scale AP-MS studies do not capture a complete, accurate background protein set. Fortunately, negative controls are largely bait-independent. Hence, aggregating negative controls from multiple AP-MS studies can increase coverage and improve the characterization of background associated with a given experimental protocol. Here we present the Contaminant Repository for Affinity Purification (the CRAPome) and describe the use of this resource to score protein-protein interactions. The repository (currently available for Homo sapiens and Saccharomyces cerevisiae) and computational tools are freely available online at
PMCID: PMC3773500  PMID: 23921808
13.  Tony Pawson OC OOnt CH FRS FRSC 
Current Oncology  2013;20(5):e359.
PMCID: PMC3805405
14.  Modular evolution of phosphorylation-based signalling systems 
Phosphorylation sites are formed by protein kinases (‘writers’), frequently exert their effects following recognition by phospho-binding proteins (‘readers’) and are removed by protein phosphatases (‘erasers’). This writer–reader–eraser toolkit allows phosphorylation events to control a broad range of regulatory processes, and has been pivotal in the evolution of new functions required for the development of multi-cellular animals. The proteins that comprise this system of protein kinases, phospho-binding targets and phosphatases are typically modular in organization, in the sense that they are composed of multiple globular domains and smaller peptide motifs with binding or catalytic properties. The linkage of these binding and catalytic modules in new ways through genetic recombination, and the selection of particular domain combinations, has promoted the evolution of novel, biologically useful processes. Conversely, the joining of domains in aberrant combinations can subvert cell signalling and be causative in diseases such as cancer. Major inventions such as phosphotyrosine (pTyr)-mediated signalling that flourished in the first multi-cellular animals and their immediate predecessors resulted from stepwise evolutionary progression. This involved changes in the binding properties of interaction domains such as SH2 and their linkage to new domain types, and alterations in the catalytic specificities of kinases and phosphatases. This review will focus on the modular aspects of signalling networks and the mechanism by which they may have evolved.
PMCID: PMC3415845  PMID: 22889906
protein kinase; protein phosphatase; interaction domain; phosphorylation; domain linkage; coevolution
15.  Receptor Tyrosine Kinase Signaling Favors a Protumorigenic State in Breast Cancer Cells by Inhibiting the Adaptive Immune Response 
Cancer research  2010;70(20):7776-7787.
Using transgenic mouse models of breast cancer that ablate Src homology and collagen A (ShcA) expression or oncogene-coupled ShcA signaling, we previously showed that this adaptor is critical for mammary tumor onset and progression. We now provide the first evidence that ShcA regulates mammary tumorigenesis, in part, through its ability to regulate the adaptive immune response. Inactivation of ShcA signaling within tumor cells results in extensive CD4+ T-cell infiltration and induction of a humoral immune response in mammary tumors. This is associated with a robust CTL response in preneoplastic lesions that are deficient in ShcA signaling. Moreover, mammary tumor progression of ShcA-deficient hyperplasias is accelerated in a T cell–deficient background. We also uncover a clinically relevant correlation between high ShcA expression and low CTL infiltration in human breast cancers. Finally, we define a novel ShcA-regulated immune signature that functions as an independent prognostic marker of survival in human epidermal growth factor receptor 2+ and basal breast cancers. We reveal a novel role for tumor cell–derived ShcA in the establishment and maintenance of an immunosuppressive state.
PMCID: PMC3660232  PMID: 20924104
16.  A Web Resource for Improved Analysis of AP-MS Protein Interaction Data 
Affinity purification coupled with mass spectrometry (AP-MS) is now a widely used approach for the identification of protein-protein interactions. However, for any given protein of interest, determining which of the identified polypeptides represent bona fide interactors versus those that are background contaminants (e.g. proteins that interact with the solid-phase support, affinity reagent or epitope tag) is a challenging task. While the standard approach is to identify nonspecific interactions using one or more negative controls, most small-scale AP-MS studies do not capture a complete, accurate background protein set. Fortunately, since negative controls are largely bait-independent, we reasoned that the negative controls generated by the proteomics research community could be developed as a resource for scoring AP-MS data.
Here we present the Contaminant Repository for Affinity Purification (The CRAPome), currently containing AP-MS data from 343 control purifications conducted by 11 different research groups ( Users employ an intuitive graphical user interface to explore the database, by either querying one protein at a time, downloading background contaminant lists for selected experimental conditions, or uploading their own data (alongside their own negative controls when available) and performing data analysis. The CRAPome database scores contaminants vs. true interactors based on semi-quantitative mass spectrometry data (normalized spectral counts) embedded in most mass spectrometry experiments. The Significance Analysis of INTeractome (SAINT) scoring scheme, in addition to a simpler Fold Change calculation (FC score) are used to score user-supplied data and return a ranked list of putative interactors. We also describe database structure and composition, provide examples of the use of this resource to filter contaminants with properly chosen controls, and demonstrate the utility of the scoring scheme for identifying bona fide interaction partners. The CRAPome accommodates a variety of purification schemes and, while currently focused on human data, will be expanded to other species.
PMCID: PMC3635329
17.  Construction of human activity-based phosphorylation networks 
A high-resolution map of human phosphorylation networks was constructed by integrating experimentally determined kinase-substrate relationships with other resources, such as in vivo phosphorylation sites.
High-quality kinase-substrate relationships (KSRs) were determined using an integrated approach that combines protein microarray technology and bioinformatics analysis.Phosphorylation motifs were predicted for 284 human kinases, representing 55% of the human kinome.A high-resolution map of human phosphorylation networks was constructed that connects 230 kinases to 2591 in vivo phosphorylation sites in 652 substrates.A new role for PKA downstream of Btk (Bruton's tyrosine kinase) during B-cell receptor signaling was discovered based on KSRs identified in the phosphorylation networks.
The landscape of human phosphorylation networks has not been systematically explored, representing vast, unchartered territories within cellular signaling networks. Although a large number of in vivo phosphorylated residues have been identified by mass spectrometry (MS)-based approaches, assigning the upstream kinases to these residues requires biochemical analysis of kinase-substrate relationships (KSRs). Here, we developed a new strategy, called CEASAR, based on functional protein microarrays and bioinformatics to experimentally identify substrates for 289 unique kinases, resulting in 3656 high-quality KSRs. We then generated consensus phosphorylation motifs for each of the kinases and integrated this information, along with information about in vivo phosphorylation sites determined by MS, to construct a high-resolution map of phosphorylation networks that connects 230 kinases to 2591 in vivo phosphorylation sites in 652 substrates. The value of this data set is demonstrated through the discovery of a new role for PKA downstream of Btk (Bruton's tyrosine kinase) during B-cell receptor signaling. Overall, these studies provide global insights into kinase-mediated signaling pathways and promise to advance our understanding of cellular signaling processes in humans.
PMCID: PMC3658267  PMID: 23549483
phosphorylation; signaling networks; systems biology
18.  Yap- and Cdc42-Dependent Nephrogenesis and Morphogenesis during Mouse Kidney Development 
PLoS Genetics  2013;9(3):e1003380.
Yap is a transcriptional co-activator that regulates cell proliferation and apoptosis downstream of the Hippo kinase pathway. We investigated Yap function during mouse kidney development using a conditional knockout strategy that specifically inactivated Yap within the nephrogenic lineage. We found that Yap is essential for nephron induction and morphogenesis, surprisingly, in a manner independent of regulation of cell proliferation and apoptosis. We used microarray analysis to identify a suite of novel Yap-dependent genes that function during nephron formation and have been implicated in morphogenesis. Previous in vitro studies have indicated that Yap can respond to mechanical stresses in cultured cells downstream of the small GTPases RhoA. We find that tissue-specific inactivation of the Rho GTPase Cdc42 causes a severe defect in nephrogenesis that strikingly phenocopies loss of Yap. Ablation of Cdc42 decreases nuclear localization of Yap, leading to a reduction of Yap-dependent gene expression. We propose that Yap responds to Cdc42-dependent signals in nephron progenitor cells to activate a genetic program required to shape the functioning nephron.
Author Summary
The mammalian kidney undergoes reiterative and stereotypical morphogenetic changes to create the elaborately convoluted adult nephron, the functional filtration unit of the kidney. How these sequential morphological events are controlled remains poorly understood. Here we show that the transcriptional activator Yap is essential in the developing murine kidney. Yap mutants have reduced nephrogenesis and defective morphogenesis. Yap function in nephrogenesis is independent of its previously described role in regulation of cell proliferation and apoptosis. Instead, Yap activity is needed for proper expression of a suite of genes that control cell signaling and cell structure. Remarkably, we find that ablation of Cdc42 phenocopies loss of Yap. We show that Cdc42 is essential for nuclear access of Yap, both in vivo and in tissue culture studies. Taken together, our work shows that Yap and Cdc42 are essential for the cell fate and morphogenesis decisions necessary to shape functioning nephrons, and suggests that Yap functions downstream of Cdc42 during kidney development.
PMCID: PMC3605093  PMID: 23555292
19.  MERTK Interactions with SH2-Domain Proteins in the Retinal Pigment Epithelium 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(2):e53964.
The receptor tyrosine kinase MERTK plays an essential role in the phagocytic uptake of shed photoreceptor membranes by the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE). A fundamental aspect of signal transduction by receptor tyrosine kinases involves autophosphorylation of tyrosine residues that recruit Src-homology 2 (SH2)-domain proteins to the receptor intracellular domain. The goal of the current study was to evaluate the interactions of human MERTK with SH2-domain proteins present in the RPE. The MERTK intracellular domain was expressed as a 6xHis-fusion protein (6xHis-rMERTK571–999), purified and phosphorylated. Ni2+-NTA pull downs were performed using 6xHis-rMERTK571–999 in incubations with recombinant phosphotyrosine-recognition sequences expressed as GST-fusion proteins. In addition, pull downs of native SH2-domain proteins were performed using 6xHis-rMERTK571–999 and protein homogenates from rat RPE/choroid. For both recombinant and native proteins, western analysis detected MERTK interactions with GRB2, PIK3R1 (P85α), VAV3, and SRC. Immunohistochemical analysis localized each protein to mouse RPE. In cultured RPE-J cells incubated with rod outer segments (OS), siRNA knockdown of Grb2 had no effect on OS binding, but significantly reduced OS uptake. Pik3r1 localized to early phagosomes along with Rab5 and Eea1. Phosphorylation and activation of Src was detected downstream of phagocytosis and Mertk activation. These findings suggest that MERTK signaling in the RPE involves a cohort of SH2-domain proteins with the potential to regulate both cytoskeletal rearrangement and membrane movement. Identification of the SH2-domain signaling partners of MERTK is an important step toward further defining the mechanism of RPE phagocytosis that is central to the function and survival of the retina.
PMCID: PMC3563642  PMID: 23390493
20.  Splice-Mediated Motif Switching Regulates Disabled-1 Phosphorylation and SH2 Domain Interactions 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2012;32(14):2794-2808.
Disabled-1 (Dab1) plays a key role in reelin-mediated neuronal migration during brain development. Tyrosine phosphorylation of Dab1 at two YQXI and two YXVP motifs recruits multiple SH2 domains, resulting in activation of a wide range of signaling cascades. However, the molecular mechanisms underlying the coordinated regulation of Dab1 downstream effectors remain poorly understood. Here, we show that alternative splicing results in inclusion of different combinations of YQXI and YXVP motifs in Dab1 isoforms during development. Dab1 variants with partial or complete loss of YQXI motifs are preferentially expressed at early developmental stages, whereas the commonly studied Dab1 is predominantly expressed at late developmental stages. Expression of Dab1 variants in 293T and Neuro2a cells reveals reduced levels or absence of tyrosine phosphorylation in variants that have lost one or both YQXI motifs. We further demonstrate that Dab1 variants differ in their abilities to activate Src and recruit distinct SH2 domains involved in specific downstream signaling pathways. We propose that coordinated expression of specific Dab1 isoforms in different populations of cells in the developing brain contributes to precise neuronal migration by modulating the activity of subsets of Dab1 downstream effectors.
PMCID: PMC3416185  PMID: 22586277
21.  Regulation of Nucleocytoplasmic Shuttling of Bruton's Tyrosine Kinase (Btk) through a Novel SH3-Dependent Interaction with Ankyrin Repeat Domain 54 (ANKRD54) 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2012;32(13):2440-2453.
Bruton's tyrosine kinase (Btk), belonging to the Tec family of tyrosine kinases (TFKs), is essential for B-lymphocyte development. Abrogation of Btk signaling causes human X-linked agammaglobulinemia (XLA) and murine X-linked immunodeficiency (Xid). We employed affinity purification of Flag-tagged Btk, combined with tandem mass spectrometry, to capture and identify novel interacting proteins. We here characterize the interaction with ankryin repeat domain 54 protein (ANKRD54), also known as Lyn-interacting ankyrin repeat protein (Liar). While Btk is a nucleocytoplasmic protein, the Liar pool was found to shuttle at a higher rate than Btk. Importantly, our results suggest that Liar mediates nuclear export of both Btk and another TFK, Txk/Rlk. Liar-mediated Btk shuttling was enriched for activation loop, nonphosphorylated Btk and entirely dependent on Btk's SH3 domain. Liar also showed reduced binding to an aspartic acid phosphomimetic SH3 mutant. Three other investigated nucleus-located proteins, Abl, estrogen receptor β (ERβ), and transcription factor T-bet, were all unaffected by Liar. We mapped the interaction site to the C terminus of the Btk SH3 domain. A biotinylated, synthetic Btk peptide, ARDKNGQEGYIPSNYVTEAEDS, was sufficient for this interaction. Liar is the first protein identified that specifically influences the nucleocytoplasmic shuttling of Btk and Txk and belongs to a rare group of known proteins carrying out this activity in a Crm1-dependent manner.
PMCID: PMC3434478  PMID: 22527282
22.  Gravin Is a Transitory Effector of Polo-like Kinase 1 during Cell Division 
Molecular cell  2012;48(4):547-559.
The mitogenic and second-messenger signals that promote cell proliferation often proceed through multienzyme complexes. The kinase-anchoring protein Gravin integrates cAMP and calcium/phospholipid signals at the plasma membrane by sequestering protein kinases A and C with G protein-coupled receptors. In this report we define a role for Gravin as a temporal organizer of phosphorylation-dependent protein-protein interactions during mitosis. Mass spectrometry, molecular, and cellular approaches show that CDK1/Cyclin B1 phosphorylates Gravin on threonine 766 to prime the recruitment of the polo-like kinase Plk1 at defined phases of mitosis. Fluorescent live-cell imaging reveals that cells depleted of Gravin exhibit mitotic defects that include protracted prometaphase and misalignment of chromosomes. Moreover, a Gravin T766A phosphosite mutant that is unable to interact with Plk1 negatively impacts cell proliferation. In situ detection of phospho-T766 Gravin in biopsy sections of human glioblastomas suggests that this phosphorylation event might identify malignant neoplasms.
PMCID: PMC3513578  PMID: 23063527
23.  The Adaptor Protein Grb2 Is Not Essential for the Establishment of the Glomerular Filtration Barrier 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(11):e50996.
The kidney filtration barrier is formed by the combination of endothelial cells, basement membrane and epithelial cells called podocytes. These specialized actin-rich cells form long and dynamic protrusions, the foot processes, which surround glomerular capillaries and are connected by specialized intercellular junctions, the slit diaphragms. Failure to maintain the filtration barrier leads to massive proteinuria and nephrosis. A number of proteins reside in the slit diaphragm, notably the transmembrane proteins Nephrin and Neph1, which are both able to act as tyrosine phosphorylated scaffolds that recruit cytoplasmic effectors to initiate downstream signaling. While association between tyrosine-phosphorylated Neph1 and the SH2/SH3 adaptor Grb2 was shown in vitro to be sufficient to induce actin polymerization, in vivo evidence supporting this finding is still lacking. To test this hypothesis, we generated two independent mouse lines bearing a podocyte-specific constitutive inactivation of the Grb2 locus. Surprisingly, we show that mice lacking Grb2 in podocytes display normal renal ultra-structure and function, thus demonstrating that Grb2 is not required for the establishment of the glomerular filtration barrier in vivo. Moreover, our data indicate that Grb2 is not required to restore podocyte function following kidney injury. Therefore, although in vitro experiments suggested that Grb2 is important for the regulation of actin dynamics, our data clearly shows that its function is not essential in podocytes in vivo, thus suggesting that Grb2 rather plays a secondary role in this process.
PMCID: PMC3511449  PMID: 23226445
24.  Preface 
PMCID: PMC3415847  PMID: 22889902
25.  Eph receptor function is modulated by heterooligomerization of A and B type Eph receptors 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2011;195(6):1033-1045.
Beyond homotypic receptor interactions that are required for Eph signaling, ligand-independent association and crosstalk between members of the EphA and -B subclasses determine cell signaling outcomes.
Eph receptors interact with ephrin ligands on adjacent cells to facilitate tissue patterning during normal and oncogenic development, in which unscheduled expression and somatic mutations contribute to tumor progression. EphA and B subtypes preferentially bind A- and B-type ephrins, respectively, resulting in receptor complexes that propagate via homotypic Eph–Eph interactions. We now show that EphA and B receptors cocluster, such that specific ligation of one receptor promotes recruitment and cross-activation of the other. Remarkably, coexpression of a kinase-inactive mutant EphA3 with wild-type EphB2 can cause either cross-activation or cross-inhibition, depending on relative expression. Our findings indicate that cellular responses to ephrin contact are determined by the EphA/EphB receptor profile on a given cell rather than the individual Eph subclass. Importantly, they imply that in tumor cells coexpressing different Ephs, functional mutations in one subtype may cause phenotypes that are a result of altered signaling from heterotypic rather from homotypic Eph clusters.
PMCID: PMC3241718  PMID: 22144690

Results 1-25 (74)