Dimerization inhibits the activity of receptor-like protein-tyrosine phosphatase-α


Protein-tyrosine phosphatases (PTPs) are vital for regulating tryosine phosphorylation in many processes, including growth and differentiation1,2. The regulation of receptor-like PTP (RPTP) activity remains poorly understood, but based on the crystal structure of RPTPα domain 1 we have proposed that dimerization can negatively regulate activity, through the interaction of an inhibitory ‘wedge’ on one monomer with the catalytic cleft of domain 1 in the other monomer3,4. Here we show that dimerization inhibits the activity of a full-length RPTP in vivo. We generated stable disulphide-bonded full-length RPTPα homodimers by expressing mutants with single cysteines at different positions in the ectodomain juxtamembrane region. Expression of wild-type RPTPα and Phe135Cys and Thr141Cys mutants in RPTPα-null mouse embryo cells increased dephosphorylation and activity of Tyr 529 in the protein tyrosine kinase c-Src; in contrast, expression of a Pro137Cys mutant did not. Mutation of Pro 210/211 to leucine in the inhibitory wedge of the Pro137Cys mutant restored its ability to activate c-Src, indicating that dimerization may inhibit full-length RPTPα activity in a manner stereochemically consistent with RPTPα crystal structures3. Our results suggest that RPTPα activity can in principle be negatively regulated by dimerization in vivo.

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Figure 1: Dimerization of full-length RPTPα via intermolecular disulphide bonds.
Figure 2: Mutant FL–137C has a much reduced ability to activate c-Src in RPTPα-/- cells.
Figure 4: A P210/P211L double mutation in the wedge region activates RPTPα FL-137C.
Figure 3: Membrane localization of RPTPα proteins.


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We are grateful to C. Joazeiro for providing the pCR2 retroviral vector and to W. Eckhart and P. Blume-Jensen for suggestions and critical review of the manuscript. This work is supported by grants from the National Cancer Institute (T.H.) and Dutch Cancer Society (J.d.H.). T.H. is a Frank and Else Schilling American Cancer Society Research Professor. G.J. is supported by a fellowship from the American Cancer Society.

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Correspondence to Guoqiang Jiang.

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Jiang, G., den Hertog, J., Su, J. et al. Dimerization inhibits the activity of receptor-like protein-tyrosine phosphatase-α. Nature 401, 606–610 (1999). https://doi.org/10.1038/44170

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