During mitosis, the catalytic activity of protein-tyrosine phosphatase (PTP) alpha is enhanced, and its inhibitory binding to Grb2, which specifically blocks Src dephosphorylation, is decreased. These effects act synergistically to activate Src in mitosis. We show here that these effects are abrogated by mutation of Ser180 and/or Ser204, the sites of protein kinase C-mediated phosphorylation within PTPalpha. Moreover, either a Ser-to-Ala substitution or serine dephosphorylation specifically eliminated the ability of PTPalpha to dephosphorylate and activate Src even during interphase. This explains why the substitutions eliminated PTPalpha transforming activity, even though PTPalpha interphase dephosphorylation of nonspecific substrates was only slightly decreased. This occurred without change in the phosphorylation of PTPalpha at Tyr789, which is required for "phosphotyrosine displacement" during Src dephosphorylation. Thus, in addition to increasing PTPalpha nonspecific catalytic activity, Ser180 and Ser204 phosphorylation (along with Tyr789 phosphorylation) regulates PTPalpha substrate specificity. This involves serine phosphorylation-dependent differential modulation of the affinity of Tyr(P)789 for the Src and Grb2 SH2 domains. The results suggest that protein kinase C may participate in the mitotic activation of PTPalpha and Src and that there are intramolecular interactions between the PTPalpha C-terminal and membrane-proximal regions that are regulated, at least in part, by serine phosphorylation.
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