The multidomain protein Trio binds the LAR transmembrane tyrosine phosphatase, contains a protein kinase domain, and has separate rac-specific and rho-specific guanine nucleotide exchange factor domains.
rho-like GTP binding proteins play an essential role in regulating cell growth and actin polymerization. These molecular switches are positively regulated by guanine nucleotide exchange factors (GEFs) that promote the exchange of GDP for GTP. Using the interaction-trap assay to identify candidate proteins that bind the cytoplasmic region of the LAR transmembrane protein tyrosine phosphatase (PT-Pase), we isolated a cDNA encoding a 2861-amino acid protein termed Trio that contains three enzyme domains: two functional GEF domains and a protein serine/threonine kinase (PSK) domain. One of the Trio GEF domains (Trio GEF-D1) has rac-specific GEF activity, while the other Trio GEF domain (Trio GEF-D2) has rho-specific activity. The C-terminal PSK domain is adjacent to an Ig-like domain and is most similar to calcium/calmodulin-dependent kinases, such as smooth muscle myosin light chain kinase which similarly contains associated Ig-like domains. Near the N terminus, Trio has four spectrin-like repeats that may play a role in intracellular targeting. Northern blot analysis indicates that Trio has a broad tissue distribution. Trio appears to be phosphorylated only on serine residues, suggesting that Trio is not a LAR substrate, but rather that it forms a complex with LAR. As the LAR PTPase localizes to the ends of focal adhesions, we propose that LAR and the Trio GEF/PSK may orchestrate cell-matrix and cytoskeletal rearrangements necessary for cell migration.