CrkII, a 40kDa adaptor possessing a Src homology (SH)2 domain followed by two SH3 domains, although not endowed with catalytic activity, participates in intracellular signalling, presumably by activating the Ras pathway. CrkII was found to be phosphorylated in response to hepatocyte growth factor/scatter factor (HGF/SF) and to associate with the beta-subunit of the HGF receptor (MET). CrkII associated with p145βMET via its SH2 domain. Growth-factor-receptor-bound protein 2 (Grb2) co-immunoprecipitated with CrkII species. By transient transfection of A431 human epidermoid carcinoma cells with wild-type and dominant-negative Grb2 expression constructs lacking either the SH2 or SH3 domains, we have concluded that Grb2 does not contribute to the ‘presentation’ of CrkII to p145βMET. Overexpression of wild-type CrkII in A431 cells enhanced HGF/SF-induced proliferation, while a CrkII dominant-negative mutant lacking the SH2 domain prevented a similar proliferating response to HGF/SF. The effect of CrkII on HGF/SF-induced proliferation was also abolished in cells co-expressing CrkII and Son-of-sevenless lacking the guanine exchange domain, suggesting that CrkII is likely to induce cell proliferation partly via the Ras/mitogen-activated protein kinase route.

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