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EMBO J. 2000 Apr 3;19(7):1505-15.

Multiple modes of peptide recognition by the PTB domain of the cell fate determinant Numb.

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  • 1Structural Biology and Biochemistry Program, Research Institute, The Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, Ontario M5G 1X8.


The phosphotyrosine-binding (PTB) domain of the cell fate determinant Numb is involved in the formation of multiple protein complexes in vivo and can bind a diverse array of peptide sequences in vitro. To investigate the structural basis for the promiscuous nature of this protein module, we have determined its solution structure by NMR in a complex with a peptide containing an NMSF sequence derived from the Numb-associated kinase (Nak). The Nak peptide was found to adopt a significantly different structure from that of a GPpY sequence-containing peptide previously determined. In contrast to the helical turn adopted by the GPpY peptide, the Nak peptide forms a beta-turn at the NMSF site followed by another turn near the C-terminus. The Numb PTB domain appears to recognize peptides that differ in both primary and secondary structures by engaging various amounts of the binding surface of the protein. Our results suggest a mechanism through which a single PTB domain might interact with multiple distinct target proteins to control a complex biological process such as asymmetric cell division.

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