Evolution of SH2 domains and phosphotyrosine signalling networks

Bernard A. Liu, Piers D. Nash


Src homology 2 (SH2) domains mediate selective protein–protein interactions with tyrosine phosphorylated proteins, and in doing so define specificity of phosphotyrosine (pTyr) signalling networks. SH2 domains and protein-tyrosine phosphatases expand alongside protein-tyrosine kinases (PTKs) to coordinate cellular and organismal complexity in the evolution of the unikont branch of the eukaryotes. Examination of conserved families of PTKs and SH2 domain proteins provides fiduciary marks that trace the evolutionary landscape for the development of complex cellular systems in the proto-metazoan and metazoan lineages. The evolutionary provenance of conserved SH2 and PTK families reveals the mechanisms by which diversity is achieved through adaptations in tissue-specific gene transcription, altered ligand binding, insertions of linear motifs and the gain or loss of domains following gene duplication. We discuss mechanisms by which pTyr-mediated signalling networks evolve through the development of novel and expanded families of SH2 domain proteins and the elaboration of connections between pTyr-signalling proteins. These changes underlie the variety of general and specific signalling networks that give rise to tissue-specific functions and increasingly complex developmental programmes. Examination of SH2 domains from an evolutionary perspective provides insight into the process by which evolutionary expansion and modification of molecular protein interaction domain proteins permits the development of novel protein-interaction networks and accommodates adaptation of signalling networks.


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