Hepatocyte growth factor/scatter factor is a multifunctional factor that induces mitogenesis, motility, invasion, and branching tubulogenesis of several epithelial and endothelial cell lines in culture. The receptor for hepatocyte growth factor has been identified as the Met-tyrosine kinase. Upon stimulation with hepatocyte growth factor, the Met beta subunit becomes highly phosphorylated on tyrosine residues, one of which, tyrosine 1356 within the carboxyl terminus, is crucial for dissociation, motility, and branching tubule formation in Madin-Darby canine kidney epithelial cells. Tyrosine 1356 forms a multisubstrate binding site for the Grb2 and Shc adaptor proteins, the p85 subunit of phosphatidylinositol 3'-kinase, phospholipase Cgamma, and a phosphatase, SHP2. To investigate additional signaling molecules that are activated by the Met receptor, we have identified hepatocyte growth factor-induced phosphoproteins in tubular epithelial cells. We have established that proteins of 100-130 kDa are highly phosphorylated following stimulation of epithelial cells and that one of these is the Grb2-associated binding protein Gab1, a possible insulin receptor substrate-1-like signal transducer. We show that Gab1 is the major substrate for the Met kinase in vitro and in vivo. Association of Gab1 with Met requires a functional Grb2 binding site involving tyrosine 1356 and to a lesser extent tyrosine 1349. Met receptor mutants that fail to induce branching tubulogenesis are impaired in their ability to interact with Gab1, suggesting that Gab1 may play a role in these processes.