The members of the p130Cas (Cas) family are important scaffolding proteins that orchestrate cell adhesion, migration and invasiveness downstream of integrin adhesion receptors and receptor tyrosine kinases by recruiting enzymes and structural molecules. Shep1, BCAR3/AND-34 and NSP1 define a recently identified family of SH2 domain-containing proteins that constitutively bind Cas proteins through a Cdc25-type nucleotide exchange factor-like domain. To gain insight into the functional interplay between Shep1 and Cas in vivo, we have inactivated the Shep1 gene in the mouse through Cre-mediated deletion of the exon encoding the SH2 domain. Analysis of Cas tyrosine phosphorylation in the brains of newborn mice, where Shep1 is highly expressed, revealed a strong decrease in Cas substrate domain phosphorylation in knockout compared to wild-type brains. Src family kinases bind to Cas via their SH3 and SH2 domains, which contributes to their activation, and phosphorylate multiple tyrosines in the Cas substrate domain. These tyrosine-phosphorylated motifs represent docking sites for the Crk adaptor, linking Cas to the downstream Rac1 and Rap1 GTPases to regulate cell adhesion and actin cytoskeleton organization. Accordingly, we detected lower Cas-Crk association and lower phosphorylation of the Src activation loop in Shep1 knockout brains compared to wild-type. Conversely, Shep1 transfection in COS cells increases Cas tyrosine phosphorylation. The SH2 domain is likely critical for the effects of Shep1 on Cas and Src signaling because the knockout mice express Shep1 fragments that lack the amino-terminal region including the SH2 domain, presumably due to aberrant translation from internal ATG codons. These fragments retain the ability to increase Cas levels in transfected cells, similar to full-length Shep1. However, they do not affect Cas phosphorylation on their own or in the presence of co-transfected full-length Shep1. They also do not show dominant negative effects on the activity of full-length Shep1 in vivo because the heterozygous mice, which express the fragments, have a normal life span. This is in contrast to the homozygous knockout mice, most of which die soon after birth. These data demonstrate that Shep1 plays a critical role in the in vivo regulation of Src activity and Cas downstream signaling through Crk, and suggest that the SH2 domain of Shep1 is critical for these effects.
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