PerspectiveCell Biology

Grb2, a Double-Edged Sword of Receptor Tyrosine Kinase Signaling

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Science Signaling  06 Nov 2012:
Vol. 5, Issue 249, pp. pe49
DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.2003576

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Receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs) exhibit basal tyrosine phosphorylation and activity in the absence of ligand stimulation, which has been attributed to the “leaky” nature of tyrosine kinase autoinhibition and stochastic collisions of receptors in the membrane bilayer. This basal phosphorylation does not produce a signal of sufficient amplitude and intensity to manifest in a biological response and hence is considered to be a passive, futile process that does not have any biological function. This paradigm has now been challenged by a study showing that the basal phosphorylation of RTKs is a physiologically relevant process that is actively inhibited by the intracellular adaptor protein growth factor receptor-bound 2 (Grb2) and serves to “prime” receptors for a rapid response to ligand stimulation. Grb2 is conventionally known for playing positive roles in RTK signaling. The discovery of a negative regulatory role for Grb2 reveals that this adaptor acts as a double-edged sword in the regulation of RTK signaling.

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