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Phosphotyrosine recognition domains: the typical, the atypical and the versatile

Tomonori Kaneko1, Rakesh Joshi1, Stephan M Feller2 and Shawn SC Li1*

  • * Corresponding author: Shawn SC Li

  • † Equal contributors

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Biochemistry and the Siebens-Drake Medical Research Institute, Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry, University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, N6A 5C1, Canada

2 Biological Systems Architecture Group, Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine, Department of Oncology, University of Oxford, John Radcliffe Hospital, Headley Way, Oxford, OX3 9DS, UK

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Cell Communication and Signaling 2012, 10:32  doi:10.1186/1478-811X-10-32

Published: 7 November 2012


SH2 domains are long known prominent players in the field of phosphotyrosine recognition within signaling protein networks. However, over the years they have been joined by an increasing number of other protein domain families that can, at least with some of their members, also recognise pTyr residues in a sequence-specific context. This superfamily of pTyr recognition modules, which includes substantial fractions of the PTB domains, as well as much smaller, or even single member fractions like the HYB domain, the PKCδ and PKCθ C2 domains and RKIP, represents a fascinating, medically relevant and hence intensely studied part of the cellular signaling architecture of metazoans. Protein tyrosine phosphorylation clearly serves a plethora of functions and pTyr recognition domains are used in a similarly wide range of interaction modes, which encompass, for example, partner protein switching, tandem recognition functionalities and the interaction with catalytically active protein domains. If looked upon closely enough, virtually no pTyr recognition and regulation event is an exact mirror image of another one in the same cell. Thus, the more we learn about the biology and ultrastructural details of pTyr recognition domains, the more does it become apparent that nature cleverly combines and varies a few basic principles to generate a sheer endless number of sophisticated and highly effective recognition/regulation events that are, under normal conditions, elegantly orchestrated in time and space. This knowledge is also valuable when exploring pTyr reader domains as diagnostic tools, drug targets or therapeutic reagents to combat human diseases.

Posttranslational modification; Phosphotyrosine signaling; Ligand recognition specificity; Cancer therapeutics; Signaling circuit