Receptor Tyrosine Kinases (RTKs) comprise a diverse group of cell-surface receptors that mediate key signaling events during animal development and are frequently activated in cancer. We show here that deletion of the extracellular regions of 10 RTKs representing 7 RTK classes or their substitution with the dimeric immunoglobulin Fc region results in constitutive receptor phosphorylation but fails to result in phosphorylation of downstream signaling effectors Erk or Akt. Conversely, substitution of RTK extracellular regions with the extracellular region of the Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor (EGFR) results in increases in effector phosphorylation in response to EGF. These results indicate that the activation signal generated by the EGFR extracellular region is capable of activating at least seven different RTK classes. Failure of phosphorylated Fc-RTK chimeras or RTKs with deleted extracellular regions to stimulate phosphorylation of downstream effectors indicates that either dimerization and receptor phosphorylation per se are insufficient to activate signaling or constitutive dimerization leads to pathway inhibition.

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