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Keywords:

  • Grb2;
  • JNK;
  • MAPK;
  • Met;
  • transformation

The Met/Hepatocyte Growth Factor (HGF) receptor tyrosine kinase is oncogenically activated through a rearrangement that creates a hybrid gene Tpr-Met. The resultant chimeric p65 Tpr–Met protein is constitutively phosphorylated on tyrosine residues in vivo and associates with a number of SH2-containing signaling molecules including the p85 subunit of PI-3 kinase and the Grb2 adaptor protein, which couples receptor tyrosine kinases to the Ras signaling pathway. Mutation of the binding site for Grb2 impairs the ability of Tpr-Met oncoprotein to transform fibroblasts, suggesting that the activation of the Ras/MAP kinase signaling pathway through Grb2 may be essential for cellular transformation. To test this hypothesis dominant-negative mutants of Grb2 with deletions of the SH3 domains were introduced into Tpr-Met transformed fibroblasts. Cells overexpressing the mutants were found to be morphologically reverted and exhibited reduced growth in soft agar. Surprisingly, the Grb2 mutants blocked activation of the JNK/SAPK but not MAP kinase activity induced by the Tpr-Met oncoprotein. Additionally, cells expressing dominant-negative Grb2 mutants had reduced PI-3-kinase activity and dominant-negative mutants of Rac1 blocked both Tpr-Met-induced transformation and activation of JNK. These experiments reveal a novel link between Met and the JNK pathway, which is essential for transformation by this oncogene.