Activated receptor tyrosine kinases bind the Shc adaptor protein through its N-terminal phosphotyrosine-binding (PTB) and C-terminal Src homology 2 (SH2) domains. After binding, Shc is phosphorylated within the central collagen-homology (CH) linker region on Tyr-317, a residue remote to both the PTB and SH2 domains. Shc phosphorylation plays a pivotal role in the initiation of mitogenic signaling through the Ras/Raf/MEK/ERK pathway, but it is unclear if Tyr-317 phosphorylation affects Shc-receptor interactions through the PTB and SH2 domains. To investigate the structural impact of Shc phosphorylation, molecular dynamics simulations were carried out using special-purpose Molecular Dynamics Machine-Grape computers. After a 1-nanosecond equilibration, atomic motions in the structures of unphosphorylated Shc and Shc phosphorylated on Tyr-317 were calculated during a 2-nanosecond period. The results reveal larger phosphotyrosine-binding domain fluctuations and more structural flexibility of unphosphorylated Shc compared with phosphorylated Shc. Collective motions between the PTB-SH2, PTB-CH, and CH-SH2 domains were highly correlated only in unphosphorylated Shc. Dramatic changes in domain coupling and structural rigidity, induced by Tyr-317 phosphorylation, may alter Shc function, bringing about marked differences in the association of unphosphorylated and phosphorylated Shc with its numerous partners, including activated membrane receptors.
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