Eph-related receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs) have been implicated in intercellular communication during embryonic development. To elucidate their signal transduction pathways, we applied the yeast two-hybrid system. We could demonstrate that the carboxyl termini of the Eph-related RTKs EphA7, EphB2, EphB3, EphB5, and EphB6 interact with the PDZ domain of the ras-binding protein AF6. A mutational analysis revealed that six C-terminal residues of the receptors are involved in binding to the PDZ domain of AF6 in a sequence-specific fashion. Moreover, this PDZ domain also interacts with C-terminal sequences derived from other transmembrane receptors such as neurexins and the Notch ligand Jagged. In contrast to the association of EphB3 to the PDZ domain of AF6, the interaction with full-length AF6 clearly depends on the kinase activity of EphB3, suggesting a regulated mechanism for the PDZ-domain-mediated interaction. These data gave rise to the idea that the binding of AF6 to EphB3 occurs in a cooperative fashion because of synergistic effects involving different epitopes of both proteins. Moreover, in NIH 3T3 and NG108 cells endogenous AF6 is phosphorylated specifically by EphB3 and EphB2 in a ligand-dependent fashion. Our observations add the PDZ domain to the group of conserved protein modules such as Src-homology-2 (SH2) and phosphotyrosine-binding (PTB) domains that regulate signal transduction through their ability to mediate the interaction with RTKs.
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