The c-Mpl ligand (thrombopoietin) stimulates tyrosine phosphorylation of Jak2, Shc, and c-Mpl.
c-Mpl is a member of the cytokine receptor superfamily, expressed primarily on hematopoietic cells. Recently, the c-Mpl ligand was cloned and found to have thrombopoietic activity. In this paper we report that ligand binding induced tyrosine phosphorylation in BaF3 cells engineered to express the murine Mpl receptor (BaF3/mMpl). Phosphorylation occurred within 1 min at cytokine concentrations sufficient for proliferation of receptor-bearing cells. Using specific antibodies for immunoprecipitation and Western blotting, several of these phosphorylated proteins were identified. Shc and Jak2, known cytokine signaling molecules, and the c-Mpl receptor were shown to be major substrates for tyrosine phosphorylation. In contrast, phospholipase C-gamma and phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase displayed little and no tyrosine phosphorylation, respectively, after thrombopoietin stimulation. Co-immunoprecipitation studies demonstrated that Jak2 became physically associated with c-Mpl relatively late in the observed time course (20-60 min), significantly later than tyrosine phosphorylation of Jak2 (1-5 min). These results suggest that c-Mpl induces signal transduction pathways similar to those of other known cytokines. Additionally, in light of its late physical association with c-Mpl following ligand binding, Jak2 may not be the initiating tyrosine kinase in the thrombopoietin-induced signaling cascade.