Requirements of multiple domains of SLI-1, a Caenorhabditis elegans homologue of c-Cbl, and an inhibitory tyrosine in LET-23 in regulating vulval differentiation

C H Yoon, C Chang, N A Hopper, G M Lesa, P W Sternberg
Molecular Biology of the Cell 2000, 11 (11): 4019-31
SLI-1, a Caenorhabditis elegans homologue of the proto-oncogene product c-Cbl, is a negative regulator of LET-23-mediated vulval differentiation. Lack of SLI-1 activity can compensate for decreased function of the LET-23 epidermal growth factor receptor, the SEM-5 adaptor, but not the LET-60 RAS, suggesting that SLI-1 acts before RAS activation. SLI-1 and c-Cbl comprise an N-terminal region (termed SLI-1:N/Cbl-N, containing a four-helix bundle, an EF hand calcium-binding domain, and a divergent SH2 domain) followed by a RING finger domain and a proline-rich C-terminus. In a transgenic functional assay, the proline-rich C-terminal domain is not essential for sli-1(+) function. A protein lacking the SH2 and RING finger domains has no activity, but a chimeric protein with the SH2 and RING finger domains of SLI-1 replaced by the equivalent domains of c-Cbl has activity. The RING finger domain of c-Cbl has been shown recently to enhance ubiquitination of active RTKs by acting as an E3 ubiquitin-protein ligase. We find that the RING finger domain of SLI-1 is partially dispensable. Further, we identify an inhibitory tyrosine of LET-23 requiring sli-1(+) for its effects: removal of this tyrosine closely mimics the loss of sli-1 but not of another negative regulator, ark-1. Thus, we suggest that this inhibitory tyrosine mediates its effects through SLI-1, which in turn inhibits signaling upstream of LET-60 RAS in a manner not wholly dependent on the ubiquitin-ligase domain.

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