The Cbl family proteins: ring leaders in regulation of cell signaling

J Cell Physiol. 2006 Oct;209(1):21-43. doi: 10.1002/jcp.20694.


The proto-oncogenic protein c-Cbl was discovered as the cellular form of v-Cbl, a retroviral transforming protein. This was followed over the years by important discoveries, which identified c-Cbl and other Cbl-family proteins as key players in several signaling pathways. c-Cbl has donned the role of a multivalent adaptor protein, capable of interacting with a plethora of proteins, and has been shown to positively influence certain biological processes. The identity of c-Cbl as an E3 ubiquitin ligase unveiled the existence of an important negative regulatory pathway involved in maintaining homeostasis in protein tyrosine kinase (PTK) signaling. Recent years have also seen the emergence of novel regulators of Cbl, which have provided further insights into the complexity of Cbl-influenced pathways. This review will endeavor to provide a summary of current studies focused on the effects of Cbl proteins on various biological processes and the mechanism of these effects. The major sections of the review are as follows: Structure and genomic organization of Cbl proteins; Phosphorylation of Cbl; Interactions of Cbl; Localization of Cbl; Mechanism of effects of Cbl: (a) Ubiquitylation-dependent events: This section elucidates the mechanism of Cbl-mediated downregulation of EGFR and details the PTK and non-PTKs targeted by Cbl. In addition, it addresses the functional requirements for E3 Ubiquitin ligase activity of Cbl and negative regulation of Cbl-mediated downregulation of PTKs, (b) Adaptor functions: This section discusses the mechanisms of adaptor functions of Cbl in mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) activation, insulin signaling, regulation of Ras-related protein 1 (Rap1), PI-3' kinase signaling, and regulation of Rho-family GTPases and cytoskeleton; Biological functions: This section gives an account of the diverse biological functions of Cbl and includes the role of Cbl in transformation, T-cell signaling and thymus development, B-cell signaling, mast-cell degranulation, macrophage functions, bone development, neurite growth, platelet activation, muscle degeneration, and bacterial invasion; Conclusions and perspectives.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptor Proteins, Signal Transducing / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Models, Biological
  • Phosphorylation
  • Protein-Tyrosine Kinases / metabolism
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-cbl / genetics
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-cbl / metabolism
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-cbl / physiology*
  • Signal Transduction*
  • Ubiquitin / metabolism


  • Adaptor Proteins, Signal Transducing
  • Ubiquitin
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-cbl
  • Protein-Tyrosine Kinases