Flt3 signaling involves tyrosyl-phosphorylation of SHP-2 and SHIP and their association with Grb2 and Shc in Baf3/Flt3 cells.
Flt3 ligand (FL) is an early-acting potent co-stimulatory cytokine that regulates proliferation and differentiation of a number of blood cell lineages. Its receptor Flt3/Flk2 belongs to class III receptor tyrosine kinases that also include the receptors for colony-stimulating factor 1, Steel factor, and platelet-derived growth factor. Using CSF-1 receptor/Flt3 chimeras, two groups have characterized some of the post-receptor signaling events and substrate specificity of murine Flt3 receptor. However, there are few studies on the signaling pathway through human Flt3. We examined human Flt3 signaling pathways in a murine IL-3-dependent hematopoietic cell line Baf3, which stably expresses full-length human Flt3 receptor. This subline proliferates in response to human FL. Like the chimeric murine Flt3, human Flt3 undergoes autophosphorylation, associates with Grb2, and leads to tyrosine phosphorylation of Shc on ligand binding. We found that SHP-2, but not SHP-1, is tyrosine-phosphorylated by FL stimulation. SHP-2 does not associate with Flt3, but binds directly to Grb2. SHIP is also tyrosine-phosphorylated and associates with Shc after FL simulation. We further examined the downstream signaling pathway. FL transiently activates MAP kinase. This activation could be blocked by PD98059, a specific MEK inhibitor. PD98059 also blocked cell proliferation in response to FL. These results demonstrate that SHP-2 and SHIP are important components in the human Flt3 signaling pathway and suggest that SHP-2 and SHIP, by forming complexes with adapter proteins Grb2 and Shc, may modulate MAP kinase activation, which may be necessary for the mitogenic signaling of Flt3.