The FLT4 gene encodes two isoforms of a tyrosine kinase receptor, which belongs to the family of receptors for vascular endothelial growth factor. As the result of an alternative processing of primary mRNA transcripts, the long isoform differs from the short isoform by an additional stretch of 65 amino acid residues located at the C terminus and containing three tyrosine residues, Tyr1333, Tyr1337, and Tyr1363. Only the long isoform is endowed with a transforming capacity in fibroblasts. We show that this activity is related to the capacity of the tyrosine 1337-containing sequence to interact with the phosphotyrosine binding domain of the SHC protein. This demonstrates that a functional property of this newly described domain includes relay of mitogenic signals. In addition, it shows that the same receptor can mediate different functions through the optional binding of the phosphotyrosine binding domain and that the alternative use of this domain is sufficient to direct the signal toward different pathways.
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