There are two major lines of thinking concerning the mechanisms responsible for specificity in receptor tyrosine kinase signalling. On one hand, receptors might provide instructive signals that dictate cell-fate decisions and, on the other, they might generate permissive signals unleashing responses that are inherently defined in the protein repertoire of target cells. Recent data indicate that the signalling activity of the Met receptor for hepatocyte growth factor is affected by association with cell-specific surface molecules, namely the α6β4 integrin, Plexin B1 and CD44. This suggests that integration of cell-restricted expression of receptor partners that modulate kinase outputs with the intrinsic signalling features of receptors is required for specification of biological responses.
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