Proline-rich tyrosine kinase 2 (Pyk2) (also known as RAFTK, CAKβ or CADTK) has been identified as a member of the focal adhesion kinase (FAK) family of protein-tyrosine kinases and it has been suggested that the mode of Pyk2 activation is distinct from that of FAK. In the present study we investigated the mode of Pyk2 activation in human platelets. When platelets were stimulated with thrombin, Pyk2, as well as FAK, was markedly tyrosine-phosphorylated, in a manner mostly dependent on αIIbβ3 integrin-mediated aggregation. The residual Pyk2 tyrosine phosphorylation observed in the absence of platelet aggregation was completely abolished by pretreatment with BAPTA/AM [bis-(o-aminophenoxy)ethane-N,N,Nʹ,Nʹ-tetra-acetic acid acetoxymethyl ester]. The Pyk2 phosphorylation was inhibited by protein kinase C (PKC) inhibitors at concentrations that inhibited platelet aggregation. In contrast, direct activation of PKC with the active phorbol ester PMA induced the tyrosine phosphorylation of Pyk2 and FAK but only when platelets were fully aggregated with the exogenous addition of fibrinogen (the ligand for αIIbβ3 integrin). Furthermore, PMA-induced Pyk2 (and FAK) tyrosine phosphorylation was also observed when platelets adhered to immobilized fibrinogen. The activation of the von Willebrand factor (vWF)--glycoprotein Ib pathway with botrocetin together with vWF failed to induce Pyk2 (and FAK) tyrosine phosphorylation. Most Pyk2 and FAK was present in the cytosol and membrane skeleton fractions in unstimulated platelets. When platelets were stimulated with thrombin, both Pyk2 and FAK were translocated to the cytoskeleton in an aggregation-dependent manner. In immunoprecipitation studies, Pyk2, as well as FAK, seemed to associate with Shc through Grb2. With the use of glutathione S-transferase fusion proteins containing Shc-SH2, Grb2-SH2, and Grb2 N-terminal and C-terminal SH3 domains, it was implied that the proline-rich region of Pyk2 (and FAK) binds to the N-terminal SH3 domain of Grb2 and that the phosphotyrosine residue of Shc binds to the SH2 domain of Grb2. Although Pyk2 and FAK have been reported to be differentially regulated in many cell types, our results suggest that, in human platelets, the mode of Pyk2 activation is mostly similar to that of FAK, in terms of αIIbβ3 integrin-dependent and PKC-dependent tyrosine phosphorylation. Furthermore, Pyk2, as well as FAK, might have one or more important roles in post-aggregation tyrosine phosphorylation events, in association with the cytoskeleton and through interaction with adapter proteins including Grb2 and Shc.

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