We recently found that a thioether analog of K vitamin (Cpd 5) inhibited the activity of protein-tyrosine phosphatases (PTPases) and induced protein- tyrosine phosphorylation in a human hepatoma cell line (Hep3B). We have now examined the structural requirements for induction of protein-tyrosine phosphorylation and PTPase inhibition by several K vitamin analogs. Thioether analogs with sulfhydryl arylation capacity, especially those with a hydroxy (Cpd 5) or a methoxy group at the end of the side chain, induced protein- tyrosine phosphorylation, but non-arylating analogs, such as those with an all-carbon or O-ether side chain, did not. Among the receptor-tyrosine kinases, epidermal growth factor receptors were tyrosine-phosphorylated by treatment with thioether analogs, whereas insulin and hepatocyte growth factor receptors were not. An increase in tyrosine-phosphorylated ERK2 mitogen-activated protein kinase was also observed. The activity of purified T cell PTPase was inhibited only by the thioether analogs, but not by non- arylating analogs. Furthermore, the epidermal growth factor receptor dephosphorylation activity of Hep3B cell lysates was inhibited by Cpd 5 treatment. A similar induction of protein-tyrosine phosphorylation by Cpd 5 was seen in other human hepatoma cell lines together with growth inhibition. However, one cell line (HepG2), which was relatively resistant to growth inhibition by Cpd 5, did not increase its phosphorylation levels upon Cpd 5 treatment. These results suggest that cell growth inhibition by thioether analogs is closely associated with inhibition of PTPases by sulfhydryl arylation and with tyrosine phosphorylation of selected proteins.
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