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J Biol Chem. 2002 Oct 11;277(41):38627-34. Epub 2002 Aug 13.

Definition of an inhibitory juxtamembrane WW-like domain in the platelet-derived growth factor beta receptor.

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Department of Genetics, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut 06510, USA.


A variety of tumors contain activating mutations in the cytoplasmic juxtamembrane domain of the type III family of receptor-tyrosine kinases, and some constructed mutations in this domain induce ligand-independent receptor activation. To explore the role of this domain in regulation of receptor activity, we subjected the juxtamembrane domain of the murine platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF) beta receptor to alanine-scanning mutagenesis. The mutant receptors were expressed in Ba/F3 cells and tested for constitutive tyrosine phosphorylation, association with phosphatidylinositol 3'-kinase, and their ability to induce cell survival and proliferation in the absence of interleukin-3. The mutant receptors accumulated to similar levels and appeared to undergo a normal PDGF-induced increase in tyrosine phosphorylation. Alanine substitutions at numerous positions located throughout the juxtamembrane domain caused constitutive receptor activation, as did an alanine insertion in the membrane-proximal segment of the juxtamembrane domain and a six-amino acid deletion in the center of the domain. It is possible to model the PDGF receptor juxtamembrane domain as a short alpha-helix followed by a three-stranded beta-sheet very similar to the known structures of WW domains. Strikingly, the activating mutations clustered in the central portions of the first and second beta strands and along one face of the beta-sheet, whereas the loops connecting the strands were largely devoid of mutationally sensitive positions. These findings provide strong support for the model that the activating mutations in the juxtamembrane region stimulate receptor activity by disrupting an inhibitory WW-like domain.

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