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J Biol Chem. 1997 May 2;272(18):11916-23.

A novel Drosophila receptor tyrosine kinase expressed specifically in the nervous system. Unique structural features and implication in developmental signaling.

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Department of Biochemistry, Kobe University School of Medicine, 7-5-1, Kusunoki-chou, Chuo-Ku, Kobe 650, Japan.


We report the identification and characterization of Dnrk (Drosophila neurospecific receptor kinase), a Drosophila gene encoding a putative receptor tyrosine kinase (RTK) highly related to the Trk and Ror families of RTKs. During Drosophila embryogenesis, the Dnrk gene is expressed specifically in the developing nervous system. The Dnrk protein possesses two conserved cysteine-containing domains and a kringle domain within its extracellular domain, resembling those observed in Ror family RTKs (Ror1, Ror2, and a Drosophila Ror, Dror). This protein contains the catalytic tyrosine kinase (TK) domain with two putative ATP-binding motifs, resembling those observed in another Drosophila RTK (Dtrk) that mediates homophilic cell adhesion. The TK domain of Dnrk, expressed in bacteria or mammalian cells, exhibits apparent autophosphorylation activities in vitro. The TK domain lacking the distal ATP-binding motif also exhibits autophosphorylation activity, yet to a lesser extent. In addition to its TK activity, there are several putative tyrosine-containing motifs that upon phosphorylation may interact with Src homology 2 regions of other signaling molecules. Collectively, these results suggest that Dnrk may play an important role in neural development during Drosophila embryogenesis.

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