The negative regulator Cbl functions as a ubiquitin ligase towards activated receptor tyrosine kinases and facilitates their transport to lysosomes. Whether Cbl ubiquitin ligase activity mediates its negative regulatory effects on cytoplasmic tyrosine kinases of the Syk/ZAP-70 family has not been addressed, nor is it known whether these kinases are regulated via ubiquitylation during lymphocyte B-cell receptor engagement. Here we show that B-cell receptor stimulation in Ramos cells induces the ubiquitylation of Syk tyrosine kinase which is inhibited by a dominant-negative mutant of Cbl. Intact tyrosine kinase-binding and RING finger domains of Cbl were found to be essential for Syk ubiquitylation in 293T cells and for in vitro Syk ubiquitylation. These same domains were also essential for Cbl-mediated negative regulation of Syk as measured using an NFAT-luciferase reporter in a lymphoid cell. Association with Cbl did not alter the kinase activity of Syk. Altogether, our results support an essential role for Cbl ubiquitin ligase activity in the negative regulation of Syk, and establish that ubiquitylation provides a mechanism of Cbl-mediated negative regulation of cytoplasmic targets.
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