We have used the yeast two-hybrid system to identify proteins that interact with the intracellular portion of the hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) receptor (Met). We isolated a human cDNA encoding a novel protein of 68 kDa, which we termed FAP68. This protein is homologous to a previously described FK506-binding protein-associated protein, FAP48, which derives from an alternative spliced form of the same cDNA, lacking an 85-nucleotide exon and leading to an early stop codon. Here we show that epithelial cells, in which the HGF receptor is naturally expressed, contain FAP68 and not FAP48 proteins. FAP68 binding to Met requires the last 30 amino acids of the C-terminal tail, which are unique to the HGF receptor. Indeed, FAP68 does not interact with related tyrosine kinases of the Met and insulin receptor families. FAP68 interacts specifically with the inactive form of HGF receptor, such as a kinase-defective receptor or a dephosphorylated wild type receptor. In vivo, endogenous FAP68 can be coimmunoprecipitated with the HGF receptor in the absence of stimuli and not upon HGF stimulation. Thus, FAP68 represents a novel type of effector that interacts with the inactive HGF receptor and is released upon receptor phosphorylation. Free FAP68 exerts a specific stimulatory activity toward the downstream target p70 S6 protein kinase (p70S6K). Significantly, nonphosphorylated HGF receptor prevents FAP68 from stimulating p70S6K. These data suggest a role for FAP68 in coupling HGF receptor signaling to the p70S6K pathway.
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