A bipolar clamp mechanism for activation of Jak-family protein tyrosine kinases

PLoS Comput Biol. 2009 Apr;5(4):e1000364. doi: 10.1371/journal.pcbi.1000364. Epub 2009 Apr 17.


Most cell surface receptors for growth factors and cytokines dimerize in order to mediate signal transduction. For many such receptors, the Janus kinase (Jak) family of non-receptor protein tyrosine kinases are recruited in pairs and juxtaposed by dimerized receptor complexes in order to activate one another by trans-phosphorylation. An alternative mechanism for Jak trans-phosphorylation has been proposed in which the phosphorylated kinase interacts with the Src homology 2 (SH2) domain of SH2-B, a unique adaptor protein with the capacity to homo-dimerize. Building on a rule-based kinetic modeling approach that considers the concerted nature and combinatorial complexity of modular protein domain interactions, we examine these mechanisms in detail, focusing on the growth hormone (GH) receptor/Jak2/SH2-Bbeta system. The modeling results suggest that, whereas Jak2-(SH2-Bbeta)(2)-Jak2 heterotetramers are scarcely expected to affect Jak2 phosphorylation, SH2-Bbeta and dimerized receptors synergistically promote Jak2 trans-activation in the context of intracellular signaling. Analysis of the results revealed a unique mechanism whereby SH2-B and receptor dimers constitute a bipolar 'clamp' that stabilizes the active configuration of two Jak2 molecules in the same macro-complex.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptor Proteins, Signal Transducing / chemistry*
  • Adaptor Proteins, Signal Transducing / metabolism*
  • Binding Sites
  • Computer Simulation
  • Enzyme Activation
  • Janus Kinases / chemistry*
  • Janus Kinases / metabolism*
  • Models, Biological*
  • Models, Chemical*
  • Phosphorylation
  • Protein Binding
  • Signal Transduction / physiology*


  • Adaptor Proteins, Signal Transducing
  • Sh2bpsm1 protein, mouse
  • Janus Kinases