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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2009 Feb 17;106(7):2182-7. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0807543105. Epub 2009 Jan 23.

An unrecognized extracellular function for an intracellular adapter protein released from the cytoplasm into the tumor microenvironment.

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University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX 77030, USA.


Mammalian cell membranes provide an interface between the intracellular and extracellular compartments. It is currently thought that cytoplasmic signaling adapter proteins play no functional role within the extracellular tumor environment. Here, by selecting combinatorial random peptide libraries in tumor-bearing mice, we uncovered a direct, specific, and functional interaction between CRKL, an adapter protein [with Src homology 2 (SH2)- and SH3-containing domains], and the plexin-semaphorin-integrin domain of beta(1) integrin in the extracellular milieu. Through assays in vitro, in cellulo, and in vivo, we show that this unconventional and as yet unrecognized protein-protein interaction between a regulatory integrin domain (rather than a ligand-binding one) and an intracellular adapter (acting outside of the cells) triggers an alternative integrin-mediated cascade for cell growth and survival. Based on these data, here we propose that a secreted form of the SH3/SH2 adaptor protein CRKL may act as a growth-promoting factor driving tumorigenesis and may lead to the development of cancer therapeutics targeting secreted CRKL.

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