During activation of adrenocortical cells by adrenocorticotrophic hormone (ACTH), tyrosine dephosphorylation of paxillin is stimulated and this correlates with protrusion of filopodial structures and a decreased number of focal adhesions. These effects are inhibited by Na3VO4, a phosphotyrosine phosphatase inhibitor [Vilgrain, Chinn, Gaillard, Chambaz and Feige (1998) Biochem. J. 332, 533–540]. However, the tyrosine phosphatases involved in these processes remain to be identified. In this study, we provide evidence that the Src homology domain (SH)2-containing phosphotyrosine phosphatase (SHP)2, but not SHP1, is expressed in adrenocortical cells and is phosphorylated upon ACTH challenge. ACTH (10-8M) treatment of 32P-labelled adrenocortical cells resulted in an increase in phosphorylated SHP2. By probing SHP2-containing immunoprecipitates with an antibody to phosphoserine we found that SHP2 was phosphorylated on serine in ACTH-treated cells in a dose- and time-dependent manner. Furthermore, using an in vitro kinase assay, we showed that SHP2 was a target for cAMP-dependent protein kinase (PKA). Serine was identified as the only target amino acid phosphorylated in SHP2. Phosphorylation of SHP2 by PKA resulted in a dramatic stimulation of phosphatase activity measured either with insulin receptor substrate-1 or with the synthetic peptide [32P]poly(Glu/Tyr) as substrate. In an in-gel assay of SHP2-containing immunoprecipitates, phosphorylated in vitro by PKA or isolated from adrenocortical cells treated with 10nM ACTH, a pronounced activation of SHP2 activity was shown. These observations clearly support the idea that a PKA-mediated signal transduction pathway contributes to SHP2 regulation in adrenocortical cells and point to SHP2 as a possible mediator of the effects of ACTH.
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