Nyk/Mer is a recently identified receptor tyrosine kinase with neural cell adhesion molecule-like structure (two immunoglobulin G-like domains and two fibronectin III-like domains) in its extracellular region and belongs to the Ufo/Axl family of receptors. The ligand for Nyk/Mer is presently unknown, as are the signal transduction pathways mediated by this receptor. We constructed and expressed a chimeric receptor (Fms-Nyk) composed of the extracellular domain of the human colony-stimulating factor 1 receptor (Fms) and the transmembrane and cytoplasmic domains of human Nyk/Mer in NIH 3T3 fibroblasts in order to investigate the mitogenic signaling and biochemical properties of Nyk/Mer. Colony-stimulating factor 1 stimulation of the Fms- Nyk chimeric receptor in transfected NIH 3T3 fibroblasts leads to a transformed phenotype and generates a proliferative response in the absence of other growth factors. We show that phospholipase Cγ, phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase/p70 S6 kinase, Shc, Grb2, Raf-1, and mitogen-activated protein kinase are downstream components of the Nyk/Mer signal transduction pathways. In addition, Nyk/Mer weakly activates p90(rsk), while stress-activated protein kinase, Ras GTPase-activating protein (GAP), and GAP-associated p62 and p190 proteins are not activated or tyrosine phosphorylated by Nyk/Mer. An analysis comparing the Nyk/Mer signal cascade with that of the epidermal growth factor receptor indicates substrate preferences by these two receptors. Our results provide a detailed description of the Nyk/Mer signaling pathways. Given the structural similarity between the Ufo/Axl family receptors, some of the information may also be applied to other members of this receptor tyrosine kinase family.
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