Distinct involvement of the Gab1 and Grb2 adaptor proteins in signal transduction by the related receptor tyrosine kinases RON and MET.
Although the signal transduction mechanisms of the receptor tyrosine kinase MET are well defined, less is known about its close relative RON. MET initiates intracellular signaling by autophosphorylation on specific cytoplasmic tyrosines that form docking sites for the adaptor proteins Grb2 and Gab1. Grb2 binds directly and is essential for all of the biological activities of MET. Gab1 docks either directly or indirectly via Grb2 and controls only a subset of MET functions. Because MET and RON possess similar adaptor binding sites, it was anticipated that their adaptor interactions would be conserved. Here we show that in contrast to MET, RON relies primarily on Gab1 for signal transmission. Surprisingly, disruption of the Grb2 docking site of RON or Grb2 depletion augments activity, whereas enhancement of Grb2 binding attenuates Gab1 recruitment and signaling. Hence, RON and MET differ in their adaptor interactions; furthermore, Grb2 performs a novel antagonistic role in the context of RON signaling.